Most modern sports were invented in the last century, but curling goes back at least
as far as the 1500s. No one knows who cast the first stone, but it was most likely
thrown on a frozen loch in Scotland. Scottish soldiers brought the game to North
America during the French and Indian War.
There are currently about 1.5 million curlers from 35 nations around the world.
Of these countries, the majority of the curlers are in Canada, which boasts over
one million of this total number. The only other four countries that have over 10,000
curlers are Japan, Scotland, Switzerland and the USA.
Curling is a sport played on ice with two teams of four players. Click here for a diagram of the playing surface. The purpose
of the game is to put your stones (made out of granite and about 42 lb in weight)
closer to the centre of the house (the target area defined by circles drawn on the
ice surface) than the other team.
After all stones have been played, the team with the stones closest to the centre
of the house scores points for that end. There are typically eight ends in a curling
game. The points total is equal to the number of stones closer to the centre than
the nearest stone of the opposing team. After the ends (game time about two hours)
the team with the most points wins the game.
The stones do not move in a straight line. They are thrown with a turning motion
and due to the friction with the ice they move along a curved path. While the stone
is travelling down the ice, the delivering team's players are allowed to sweep in
front of the stone as a method of controlling the stone's speed and direction.
Sweeping is done with a broom designed for curling. The sweeping action very slightly
melts the surface of the ice creating a thin water film, which lowers the friction
between stone and ice. This has two effects: the stone does not slow down as quickly
and runs further before it stops and the curved path becomes straighter. Therefore
the place where the stone stops and its direction can be changed while it is running
without touching it. When players aren't throwing, they sweep the stones for their
At the highest-level curling is a skilful game of precision (inches over a distance
of 40 yards) and physical endurance (for the sweeping). On a lower level curling
is, however, a game that can be enjoyed by men and women from the young to the old.
Curling is a game of skill and traditions. A shot well executed is a delight to
see and so, too, it is a fine thing to observe the time-honored tradition of curling
being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win but never to humble
their opponents. A true curler would prefer to lose rather than win unfairly.
A good curler never attempts to distract an opponent or otherwise prevent him/her
from playing his/her best.
No curler ever deliberately breaks a rule of the game or any of its traditions.
But, if he/she should do so inadvertently and be aware of it, he/she is the first
to divulge the breach.
While the main object of curling is to determine the relative skills of the players,
the spirit of the game demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling, and honorable
conduct. This spirit should influence both the interpretation and application of
the rules of the game, and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.