Olympic curling. What’s it all about?

“In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.”

Henry David Thoreau

Olympic curling is a sport folks who dwell in the north may know about, but others may not.

When we watch curling being played on television, it appears to have a lot of yelling by the players. We sometimes wonder “what’s the yelling really about”.

Because Olympic curling is an international sport, the yelling is there, but now it’s in a foreign language, making it impossible to understand.

So let’s take a look at what all the yelling is about and how the game is played.

A general look at the game.

The game is played in a curling rink. The ice is different from regular hockey arena ice. Drops of cold water are dripped onto the surface of the ice to give it a pebbled effect. These pebbles allow the rock to glide along a small distance above the actual surface and to travel much further than if the ice surface was flat. The pebbles also have a major effect on the rock, helping it to turn or curl along the ice. Olympic curling ice preparation is critical.

The Team.

The team is made up of four players. They are named for the order in which they play the rocks.

Lead throws the first two rocks, and sweeps for the rest of the team. The leads job is the same for each end and throws guards or draws.

Second throws the third and fourth rocks and sweeps for the rest of the team. The second has the job of removing rocks from the front of the house. His or her rocks signify the end of the guard zone.

Third is also called the vice mate or vice skip, throws the fifth and sixth rocks and sweeps for the second and lead. The third is the assistant to the skip and helps out when necessary. When the skip throws a rock it is the third who holds the broom to help the skip to aim.

Skip is the team captain who generally determines the strategy for the game. The skip throws the last two rocks while the vice skip holds the broom.

The Olympic curling skip seldom sweeps except in the house and behind the tee line. The skip is not allowed in the playing area during the opposite teams end. If there is a rock in motion behind the tee line he/she may remove it.

The skip may not necessarily be the last to sweep. It is up to the team along with the skip to decide. If it is not the skip the person throwing the last rocks is called the fourth.

Team name

Generally the team will use the name of the skip. Bill Campbell formed a team. If he is the skip the team would be called the Campbell Foursome. In Olympic curling and in most international events they would be known as Team Canada.

The curling game begins by a flip of a coin. The two thirds do this job. The winner of the flip gets the hammer or last rock advantage. The flip loser gets to choose the rock color. The team without the hammer will be throw first rock. This team’s skip will place his broom in the house (the 12 foot circle) where he/she wants the rock to be thrown.

The lead then throws the first rock. He/she pushes off from the hack, a foot rest where a foot is placed so the player can push off down the ice.

There is a line in front of the player called the Hog line. The player must release the stone before crossing the hog line. While the rock is sliding along the ice, he/she skip will call for the sweepers or not, as the situation requires. The decision to sweep is made due to the speed required to get to the house. Sweeping cleans the ice and allows the rock to go fast to delay the curling of the stone. Don’t sweep and the rock will curl more.

In order to be in scoring position the rock must be across the other hog line in front of the house, and stay in the house to be counted.

The team members throw two rocks each alternating with the other team for each shot. Team one lead would throw first. Then team two lead and so on.

Every time the Olympic curling player is about to throw a rock, the skip will be at the other end at the house indicating with the broom where he/she wants the rock to end up.

After the eight or ten ends are finished, the score is tallied. The rocks of a team nearest to the centre are the winners.

In case of a tie, extra ends are played to determine a winner.

So that’s a thumbnail sketch of the game. The official rules are very detailed.

Why does a curling stone curl?

The person throwing the stone can elect to either have the stone curl or go straight. If they want the stone to curl to the left they give it a slight twist with the handle as they release it. Because of the difference in the forces on the edge that is rotating, and the other edge, it will course the stone to curl in that direction.

Because the stone makes three to four rotations down the ice there is a lot of friction helping to curl it. Olympic curling teams spend hours studying this effect in attempting to understand the dynamics. These are special shoes worn by curlers. There is no real need to buy new shoes because you just need a slider for the shoes you already own. Of course the built in slider constructed by the shoe maker will be better than one that you put on your street shoe.

The goal of the curling shoe used in Olympic curling is to have a shoe that is very comfortable, gives the curler proper support and provide a sliding surface meeting the skill level of the curler. They must provide the trailing foot with a good ice gripping surface.

As the curler will be spending plenty of time standing on ice, the thickness of the sole must be factored in to provide insulation to keep the feet warm.

For all of the events check out these Olympic sports events.

Speed skating Power and agility on skates.

Figure Skating Beauty and grace on ice.

Alpine skiing. Racing the clock.

Bobsleds. see how they are constructed.

Bobsledding. Breakneck speed on solid ice.

Nordic skiing. Exciting races on skinny skis.

Biathlon Nordic skiing and rifle shooting combination.

Hockey High flying teamwork in action.

Luge. How fast will the sled go.

Ski Jumping.Soaring through the air like a bird.

Freestyle Skiing. daring acrobats on skis.

Curling Information. a great site with lots of information on curling.

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