Curling, even though being recognized as an Olympic medal sport, is still unfamiliar to many. Just what is this sport and how is played? Simply put, curling is a sport that is played on ice where players slide granite rocks down the playing field. As the rocks travel, they have will often curve, or ‘curl,’ during play. This is why the sport is known as Curling.
This unique sport first came into existence on the frozen ponds and lakes of Northern Europe. During a Curling competition, two teams of four players will slide hefty granite rocks across a 130′ x 15′ sheet of ice. The rocks travel down the ice toward the center, which is similar to an archery format. The designated areas are painted just below the surface of the ice at both ends, which allows the rocks to be played back and forth during a series of competitions.
Each Curling game will consist of sixteen rocks being thrown and, following the conclusion, a score is tallied. Each team will score one point for each rock that is determined to be closest to the center. Very similar to the strategy of baseball, only one team can score during any given play. One of the most unique features of curling is the incorporation of sweeping. When a player sweeps the ice, they are essentially brushing it at a rapid pace in order to keep the rock moving. The process of sweeping helps to polish the ice and helps to promote a more distant, straight moving rock.
Curling is a popular sport that is actively played in over 20 countries, including North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. A large majority of curling players reside in the United States, Scotland and Canada. Mostly played indoors, curling is a popular sport for fans who prefer to be protected from mother nature while enjoying a sports event.
Even though many are still unfamiliar with curling as a sport, it’s awareness has increased since the 2002 Olympic games, which were held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cable television covered the events worldwide and many sports enthusiasts were drawn to the unique aspect of curling. In fact, curling was also a popular sport in the recent 2006 Olympic Winter Games, which were held in Turin, Italy. For more information on curling as a sport, player biographies and how to get involved, athletes and fans may visit usacurling.org.