Curling is a Winter Olympic Sport which is not one of the world’s most popular sport, nor is it one likely to receive much television coverage or be something many people will ever play. It is though, a fascinating game, well deserving of its nickname of “chess on ice”. Invented in Scotland in the 16th century it is popular in the UK (mainly Scotland) as well as countries to which Scots have exported it, including Canada, the US, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, curling is now played in a number of other countries, including many other areas of Europe, China, Japan and Korea.
Object of Game
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Curling has similarities to bowls and shuffleboard (deck) and involves sliding granite stones, also called rocks, into a target area at the other end of a long, thin strip of ice which constitutes the “pitch”. The team that propels their rocks closest to the centre of the target scores points accordingly, with the path of the stone influenced by team members who sweep and brush the ice ahead of the stone in order to change its speed or curl.
Players and Equipment
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It is played between two teams of four using eight granite stones each. The “pitch” is a flat, smooth area of ice measuring 45-46m long and 4.4-5m wide. There is a “house” at each end, a circular target made up of a blue outer circle with a 12ft diameter.
- Teams of four take it in turns to curl two rocks towards the target area with the scores being counted after all 16 rocks have been sent down the ice.
- International matches have a time limit of 73 minutes per side with two timeouts lasting a minute each. 10 minutes and one timeout are permitted per extra end in the event of a tie.
- The stone must be released its front edge crosses a line called the hog. Foul throws are removed from the ice before they have come to rest or in contact with other rocks.
- Sweeping may be done by two members of the team up to the tee line, whilst after that point only one player can brush. After the tee one player from the opposing side may also sweep
- A stone touched or moved when in play by a player or their broom will either be replaced or removed depending on the situation.
- The team to go first is decided by coin toss, “draw-to-the-button” contest or, in Olympic competition using win-loss records. Subsequently the team that failed to score in the previous end has the advantage of going last, called the hammer throw.
- A team may concede if they feel they cannot win, although depending on the event and stage of event they may have to wait until a certain number of ends have been completed.
- Fair play is of huge importance so there is a culture of self-refereeing with regards fouls and this is a big part of curling.