Curling Facts, History and How to Play
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Curling Facts, History and How to Play

Things to consider when going curling:

Teams are made of 4 people (each player throws 2 stones). Two teams play against each other on one "sheet" (lane) of ice. Time can be saved by pre-arranging teams before you arrive. The four positions are:

  • Lead: Goes first in the throwing order, then sweeps all the other team members' shots - usually has easier shots because there are few stones in play.
  • Second: Throws second and sweeps all other team members' shots - has more difficult shots since some stones in play.
  • Vice: Throws third, holds brush (target) for Skip, and sweeps only Lead's and Second's shots - has difficult shots as a lot of stones are usually in play.
  • Skip: Throws last, holds brush for all other players, tells other players when to sweep, watches the "curl" of the stone - has most difficult shots as all other stones have already been played - team captain.  

You will need a warm sweater and a very, very clean pair of running shoes (not the shoes you walk through the parking lot with) as well as loose fitting pants and perhaps gloves (the idea is warmth with mobility). Stones, brushes, score sheets and special 'curling tape' (for use as a slider) will be provided for you.

How to Play:

  • At the start of an end, and the game, the two Skips go down to the far house and begin to direct play for their teams (they are team captain). Each team alternates throwing with the other team one stone at a time. Each player throws two stones. When the Lead is delivering the Second and Vice are sweeping as the Skip watches the "line" (curl) of the stone. The sweepers judge the "weight" (how far the stone will travel) while the Skip will yell to them if the stone is curling too much. When the Second throws the Lead and Vice sweep and when the Vice throws and Lead and Second sweep. Finally, when the Skip throws the Vice watches the line from the Skip's position and the Lead and Second sweep. It is not nearly as confusing as it sounds!
  • At the conclusion of an end the two Vices must agree on the score and it is marked on the scoreboard. (Measuring devices are used if the naked eye cannot determine which stone is closer.) At the conclusion of a game the teams shake hands and say "Good Curling".

Brief History of the Sport:

  • While it is true that the sport of curling dates back to the 15th century, the modern version (Scottish style) originated in the early 17th century. The oldest Curling Club in North America is Royal Montreal Curling Club (1807).  Curling was always played outdoors, usually on frozen lakes, until the 20th century. Curling was a demonstration sport in the Olympics 4 times (1924, 1932, 1992, 1994) before being admitted as a full medal sport in 1998. Canada has more curlers in total than any other country.
  • See also, Windsor Curling Club History in Windsor, Ontario by Tedd Szalay.

Facts & Finer Points:

  • Curling is a game of etiquette - a game is always preceded by a handshake and the expression "Good Curling". Two teams play against each other on one "sheet" of ice and each game is started with a coin toss whereby the winner usually picks to go last. There are four players on a curling team and each player delivers two stones (the four positions are Skip, Vice, Second, and Lead). At the conclusion of an "end" (most curling games are 8 end games; an end is similar to an inning in baseball) the score is determined for that end. A team receives one point for each stone closer to the "tee" (centre) than the opposition (only one team can score in any one end). The team that scores goes first in the next end.
  • A stone must be 6 feet, or closer, to the tee to count for points (this area is called the "house" and is painted as a combination of circles with a total diameter of 12 feet). If no stones are in the house this is called a "blank end" and neither team scores (the team that last scored still goes first in the next end). A stone must cross the "hog line" but be no further than the "back line" to be in play. Curling is played on ice that is very level but has small "pebbles" (droplets of water). The pebble is what the stones curl on (the stone comes into contact with the ice on its "running surface" and the friction, however mild, between the running surface and the pebble makes the stone curl). A curling stone weighs approximately 42 lbs. and is made of an especially unique type of granite, which is mined exclusively in Scotland. Curling stones are very expensive: one new stone would cost approximately $1000.00.
  • A stone is delivered from the "hack" and must be released before the stone reaches the closer hog line. The "handle" (turn or spin) is placed on the stone at the point of release (the two turns are called the "in-turn" (clockwise to a right-handed thrower) and the "out-turn" (opposite). A player can re-throw providing the stone has not touched the closer tee line. Sweeping can make a stone go further (about 16 feet), make the stone curl less (run straighter), and cleans any debris from in front (if a stone hits even a tiny piece of debris it will usually curl right out of play). There is no way to slow down a stone or make it curl more. You can sweep your team's stone from the point of release until it stops (you always have priority on your team's stones). You are allowed to sweep an oppositions stone once it reaches the far "tee line".
  • The 3 basic shots in curling are the Draw (a stone that comes to rest in the house), a Guard (a stone that comes to rest short of the house and either protects a stone in the house or is put up first and then curled around later, and the Takeout (a stone with sufficient "weight" to go through the house).

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