Curling, also known as the best sport ever, dates back to 16th century Scotland. Players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area (the house). Two teams, each with four players, take turns throwing granite stones (or rocks) down the sheet towards the house. Each curler throws two stones (eight stones per team) with the goal of getting the most rocks closest to the center of the house (the button or pin). Once all the stones are thrown, the end is scored and completed. A game lasts eight or ten ends; then the winners buy the first round of drinks and the teams spend some time together broomstacking.

The rocks take a curved path down the ice and that’s where the brooms come in. Sweeping makes a rock curl less and decreases the friction that slows the rock down. A good deal of strategy and teamwork go into each shot. Good curling requires four people working together with constant communication. It’s a game of sportsmanship, etiquette, and good fun.

There are two kinds of curling: standard (which we talked about above) and mixed doubles. Mixed doubles, which makes its Olympics debut in 2018, is composed of a male and female player who only throw 5 rocks. A unique feature to mixed doubles is that two stones are pre-placed at the start of every end to encourage quicker play. Mixed doubles is considered to be the quicker of the two kinds, but both are equally as fun.

You still have questions, don’t you? Here are the most common questions we get:

 

• Do you wear ice skates?
No, we have special curling shoes with Teflon soles that allow us to slide out with the rock.

• Are you a sweeper or a thrower?
Both! Kind of like volleyball, there’s a rotation so that everyone on a team throws 2 stones. When you’re not throwing, you’re sweeping.

• Does sweeping make the rock go faster?
Not exactly. It helps the rock go further and stay straighter.

• How heavy are those rocks?
Regulation curling stones are between 38 and 44 pounds of granite. The granite comes from only two places on earth: Ailsa Craig off the Scottish coast and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales.

• Why’s it called curling?
So the ice isn’t like hockey or skating ice. It’s pebbled to have the texture of an orange peel. This reduces the surface tension so the rocks can glide down the ice, but also causes the trajectory of the rock to bend or curl.

• What’s with all the yelling?
Like we mentioned, sweeping makes the stone go further and straighter, which will affect where in the house the stone lands. The Skip of the team is responsible for calling the shots and strategies for the game, so they make the call on when, or when not, to sweep. Common sweep calls are “hurry hard!” or “right off!”

Curling Terms

as defined by Curling Canada

BACKLINE
The line across the ice at the back of the house. Stones which are over this line are removed from play.

BITER
A stone that just touches the outer edge of the circles.

BLANK END
An end in which no points have been scored.

BONSPIEL
A curling competition or tournament, also a giant party where curling usually happens.

BURNED STONE
A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play.

BUTTON
The circle at the centre of the house.

CURL
The amount a rock bends while travelling down the sheet of ice.

END
A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and the score has been decided.

GUARD
A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect another stone.

HACK
The foot-hold(s) at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered.

HIT
A take-out. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.

HOG LINE
A line 10 meters from the hack at each end of the ice. A rock must be over the hog line to be in play. A stone that does not reach the far hog line is called a hogged stone and must be removed from play.

HOUSE
The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button.

LEAD
The first player on a team to deliver a pair of stones for his/her team in each end.

PEBBLE
A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of curling ice before commencing play.

RAISE
When one stone is bumped ahead by another.

SECOND
The curler who delivers the second pair of stones for hi/her team in each end.

SHEET
The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played.

SHOT ROCK
At any time during an end, the stone closest to the button.

SKIP
The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end.

SLIDER
Slippery material placed on the sole of the shoe, to make it easier to slide on the ice.

TAKE OUT
Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone. Also called a hit.

TEE LINE
The line that passes through the centre of the house parallel to the hog line and backline.

VICE
The third player on a team to throw two stones in each end. Generally this player acts as the skip when the skip is delivering his/her stones and assists with shot selection decisions.

WEIGHT
The amount of force given to the stone during the delivery.