What is curling?

A curling game is made up of 8 ends, or 10 in a championship and teams are made up of four players. The head of the team is called the "skip" and is the most experienced. An end consists of each team member throwing two rocks, or curling stones, down the ice towards a point chosen by the skip. Each throw alternates between the two opposing teams.

A 12-foot circle (the house) is the scoring area. For each stone closer to the center of the circles than any of the opponent's stones, one point is scored. The team scoring shoots first in the next end, giving the opponent the "hammer", or last shot of that end. The sheet of ice (playing surface) is 15'71/2" wide and 146 feet long, set up to accomodate play in both directions. The shooter must be accurate in aim, weight (velocity in delivery) and giving the rock the correct "handle" (or curl).

Each running stone curls (curves) as it proceeds down the ice depending on the twist it was given during delivery. The curl allows for better control of the stone. Team members sprint along the path of the stone and sweep with curling brroms to control the curl and the speed. Sweeping slightly melts the ice, which reduces the friction between the running stone and the ice surface. The result is the stone will curl less and slide farther.

What are the sweepers for?

The reason you see curlers running like mad after the stone is that sweeping slightly melts the ice, which reduces the friction between the running stone and the ice surface. The result is the stone will curl less and slide farther. The skip often makes the call on whether or not a rock needs to be swept, and will yell things like "hurry" or "hard" if he wants the rock to be swept or "off" if the rock is going too quickly and doesn't need any help. You may also hear the sweepers give information to the skip, saying things like "heavy" or "light" to indicate how fast the rock has been thrown and how it is reacting to the ice.

Why do you pebble the ice?

Pebbling is a key part of preparing a sheet of ice for each curling game, and refers to when a fine mist of water droplets is sprayed onto the ice. They freeze almost immediately, helping rocks to slide faster. The curling action of rocks also changes during a game as the pebble evens out from wear.

What is so special about the rocks?

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 effect on the action of the rock. The stones are made of polished granite, which is quarried only on Ailsa Craig, an island off Scotland's coast.

Who can play it?

Curling is one of the few sports that is open to nearly anyone, regardless of age or ability. Kids join in from a very young age (as soon as they are big enough to throw a stone) and adults play well into retirement. For the less mobile, there are plenty of aids that mean you can curl without having to bend down, if you have bad knees, and even wheelchair curling!

How can I join in?

The best way is to attend one of our open houses. These usually occur around the middle of October and in early to mid-January. Check out our page on Learing to Curl.

Do I need any special equipment?

No. Just wear warm loose-fitting clothes and rubber soled shoes.

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