All About Curling

Olympic week is almost over already! Hope you've learned some new stuff. :)

Since the Olympics are being held in Canada this year, it would be a shame to not learn something about Curling! I've been especially curious about it considering that at least one of the NBC affiliates has been airing every Curling match this Olympics!

How does Curling work?

Short Answer:

Two teams of four people take turns sliding granite stones down an icy lane towards a target painted on the path. Points are scored when a team gets one or more of these stones closer to the target than the other team's stones. Not only can the initial thrower of the stone make it slide in an arched path, but the other team members can alter the path and speed of the stone by sweeping the ice around it.

Each team slides eight of these stones, and once both teams have thrown all of their stones, it marks the end of a match. A game consists of 8-10 matches. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the game wins.

Like boccie ball on ice. :)

The Details:


1. Stone: A thick polished granite disc weighing between 38 and 44 pounds, with a handle on top.
2. Running Surface: The part of the stone that makes contact with the ice. It's a narrow (0.25-0.5") ring (5" in diameter) attached to the bottom of the stone.
3. Curling Broom/Brush: Brush used to sweep the ice in the path of the thrown stone. Modern ones are made of fabric, or hog- or horse-hair bristles.
4. Off Foot: Shoes that have a Teflon sole, so they slide along the ice.
5. Hack Foot/Gripper Shoe: A non-sliding shoe, typically with a rubbery surface over the entirety or portions of the sole.

6. Curling Sheet: The iced lane.
7. House: The target, consisting of three concentric circles. There is one target on each end of the curling sheet.
8. Backboard: The extreme ends of the curling sheet.
9. Centre Line: Line drawn along the center of the lane, which goes through the center of the house.
10. Tee Line: A line perpendicular to the centre line that also goes through the center of the house. Each tee line is 16-feet away from each backboard.
11. Button: The absolute center of the house, at the intersection of the centre and tee lines.
12. Hog Line: A line 37-feet away from and parallel to each backboard.
13. Hacks: Two fixed, rubber-lined holes by each backboard. They give the thrower something to push off of when throwing the stones.

14. Throw/Delivery: To slide the stone down the curling sheet.
15. Skip: Teammate who determines the weight, turn, and line of the stone and communicates it to the sweepers.
16. Weight: The velocity of the sliding stone.
17. Turn: The rotation of the sliding stone.
18. Line: The direction of the throw, not taking into account the turn.
19. Thrower: The teammate who throws the stone.
20. Sweeper: The teammate/s who brush the ice in the stone's path to change its trajectory.

21. Draw: A throw that's just intended to get the stone close to the house.
22. Take-Out: When a stone knocks an opponent's stone out of the house.
23. Guard/Block: When a team places a stone in the path of the house.
24. Tap: When a stone hits another stone.
25. Burning A Stone: An infraction that occurs when the stone is accidentally touched by the sweepers, either with their broom or a body part.

26. Hammer: The advantage of being the team to throw the "last stone", usually determined by either a coin toss or a "draw-to-the-button" throw-off.
27. End: When both teams have played all of their stones.


1. The first thing to do before the stone is thrown is to clean the running surface, so nothing can accidentally alter the stone's path.

2. The thrower delivers the stone from the hack. Due to the thrower's preference, s/he can choose to release the stone at any point (even if the thrower is still sliding with it), and to turn it however many degrees s/he wants. The thrower must release the stone, however, before s/he reaches the hog line.

3. The skip tells the sweepers what to do; brushing the ice can either make the stone travel farther or change the stones turn. The skip typically yell the line to the sweepers, and the sweepers communicate the weight back to the skip. The skip can be a thrower, a sweeper, or just a watcher.

4. Any teammate (besides the thrower) can sweep their team's stone until it reaches the tee line. After that, only one teammate may sweep (usually the skip), and one of the members of the opposing team can sweep that stone, too.

5. Each player on both teams throws the stones twice until the End is achieved. The teams take turns throwing the stones.

6. After both teams have thrown all of their stones, the team with the stone closest to the button wins that End. That team gets a point for every stone of theirs in the house that is closer to the button than the closest stone from the opposing team. After 8-10 Ends, whoever has the most points win.

The women of Sweden won the Gold in Curling at the 2010 Olympics

It may sound simple, but it's actually a game of intense strategy. Just the sweeping alone requires all sorts of strategy: from when to start sweeping, to the position of the sweepers, to the pressure and speed of the sweeping, and on and on.

Hope I helped clear it up for anyone interested. I definitely want to try it out sometime!

*There are many more curling terms in the Glossary of Curling!

1 comment:

  1. A clever definition of curling: "A cross between horseshoes and housekeeping." Charles Krauthamner