Encyclopedia > Curling

  Article Content

Curling

Curling is a precision sport somewhat related to bowls, but played on ice with polished heavy stones rather than plastic balls. The game is generally believed to have been invented in 16th century Scotland, although the Brueghel painting Hunters in the Snow of 1565 depicts Dutch peasants curling.

The curling arena is a sheet of ice 146 feet long and 14 feet 2 inches wide (approximately 45.5 x 4.3 metres), carefully prepared to be absolutely level and to allow the "rocks", as the polished granite 20 kg stones are called, to glide with as little friction as possible. A key part of the preparation is the spraying of fine water droplets on the ice to create what is called pebble. The pebble helps rocks slide faster, and the curling action of rocks changes during a game as the pebble evens out from wear.

On the rink, a 12 foot wide set of concentric rings, called the house, is painted near each end of the rink. The centre of the house, marked by the junction of two lines which divide the house into quarters, is known as the button. The two lines are the centre line, which is drawn lengthwise down the centre of the sheet, and the tee line, drawn 16 feet from the backboard and parallel to it. Two other lines, the hoglines, are drawn parallel to the backboard and 37 feet from it.

The curling stone or rock used in the game weighs approximately 45 lbs and has a special feature on the bottom. The bottom of the rock is not flat, but concave and the actual running surface of the rock is only 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide on the rim of the concave bottom. This small running surface allows the pebble applied to the ice to have an affect on the action of the rock. The rock is rotated as it is released. If rotated away from the body the shot is said to be an out-turn, and if rotated across the body it is an in-turn. On properly prepared ice the rock will move laterally in the direction it is turning, especially toward the end of its trip. The degree of curl depends on several factors, including the preparation of the ice and the flattening of common paths to the house during the game. Ice on which the rocks curl well is said to be swingy.

Curling is played between two teams of four. A game usually consists of ten ends. In each end each player on each team casts two rocks in turn, the players on each side alternating shots. The rock must be released in the middle of the sheet before the near hogline is reached (players usually slide while releasing their shots) and must cross the far hogline; otherwise it is removed from play. On each shot, two players are equipped with brushes or brooms with which they can vigorously sweep the ice in front of the rock so as to alter its trajectory or increase the distance of travel. A player in the house, either the skip (captain) or vice-skip (also known as the second), has the final say in deciding whether the sweepers should sweep.

After both teams have delivered eight rocks each, the team with the closest rock to the target is awarded one point for each rock that is closer than the opponent's closest. The winner is the team with the highest score after ten ends.

Curling is most popular in Canada, but is played in other countries including the United States, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and even Japan, all of which, with other countries, compete in the world championships. There is some international variation of the rules, the most important being in the rules covering displacement of rocks in front of the house. Improvements in ice making and changes in the rules to increase scoring and promote complex strategy have increased the already high popularity of the sport in Canada, and large television audiences watch frequent curling telecasts, especially the Tournament of Hearts (the national championship for women), the Brier (the national championship for men), and the women's and men's world championships. The Tournament of Hearts and the Brier are contested by provincial and territorial champions, and the world championships by national champions.

While Canadian bonspiels (tournaments) offer cash prizes, there are no full-time professional curlers. Curling survives as a people's sport, making its Winter Olympic Games debut in 1998 with men's and women's tournaments.

Curling is the provincial sport of Saskatchewan, home of one of the most famous curlers, the late Sandra Schmirler who lead her team to the first ever Gold Medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics.



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
Music

... experience music, by feeling the vibrations in their body; the most famous example of a deaf musician is the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed many famous works ...