The sport I end up watching the most is curling. I first started watching this sport during the 2006 Olympics and I must have watched a dozen hours. I knew nothing about it and learned the rules on the fly. It was a lot of fun, but you rarely ever see it televised during Olympic off-years.
Most people try to explain curling with the phrase, “It’s like shuffleboard.” Okay, unless you live in a retirement community, you don’t know much about that ‘sport’ either.
We explain the basic rules of curling and why it’s the best sport in the Winter Olympics.
Before we start, here is a picture of the curling ‘court’ (aka curling sheet).
The basic shape looks like a shuffleboard, so that’s why people compare the two games.
Here are some of the basic bullet points.
- Each team consists of four players
- Stones weigh 42 pounds each
- The length of a curling sheet is 146-150 feet
- The width of a curling sheet is 14.5-15.5 feet
- ‘The house’ is the target section
- Curlers wear two different shoes. One is made of normal material and the other is teflon, but has a cover when needed.
- There are ten ends (which are like innings)
- Each team gets eight stones per inning
- A team gets points for every stone that is closer to the center than the opponents closest stone
- Stones only count when they are inside ‘the house’
Now that we got the scoring and terms explained, how do curlers get their stones in place during an end?
You have three basic throws. When the thrower is looking to plant a stone in the house, the throw is called a ‘draw’. When the thrower wants to get their stone in the way of the other team, it’s a ‘guard’. And finally, when the opposing team has a stone in the house, the thrower will attempt to knock it out with a ‘takeout’.
When an end begins, a team will often throw up a few guards to prevent the other team from getting stones in the house. This is where the sweepers come in handy.
The sweepers help control the speed of the stone and can also help curl the stone at the end of a throw. A team will need skilled broomers to get around guards. Skilled sweepers can get a stone to travel 10-15 feet further and can curl it about 6 feet. This is a game of inches, so sweepers can drastically affect a game.
Which countries are the best at curling?
Canada is the obvious pick, since they dominated the last two Olympics. Great Britain, Russia, Denmark, Germany, United States, Sweden, China and Norway are all fighting for #2. Norway sticks out, since they are the team that often wears gaudy pants.
If you have any other questions, here’s a quick video to sum up what I’ve explained.
Curling will dominate my television for the next week and I hope I converted a few people to watch the sport. I’ll be rooting for the United States, even though they have been dominated so far. It’s okay, as long as I can watch U.S. curler Jessica Schutlz, I’m all good.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.