game of curling is played on ice with (approximately) 42-pound granite
stones. The playing surface - a sheet - is 138 feet long from
hack to hack, and just over 14 feet wide, with a house at both ends. In
each end of the game 16 stones are played, 8 by each team,
and at the conclusion of the end, the team with one or more stones closer
to the button than any opposition stones, scores the equivalent number
of points. Each of the four members of a team delivers 2 stones each,
one at a time, alternating with the opposing team. The stones are delivered
from the hack at one end of the sheet to the house at the other end, by
the player pushing off from the hack with the stone, and releasing it
with a spin - curl - which gives Curling its name. When delivering
a stone, one can play a draw, which means the stone comes
to rest somewhere in the playing area, or a takeout, whereby
the delivered stone takes out an opposition stone. A draw stone that comes
to rest in front of another stone, thereby making it difficult for the
opposition to remove the guarded stone, is called a guard.
A: hack B: back line C: button D: tee line E: centre line F: hog line
Each stone is delivered from the hack, which is basically a rubber covered
foot rest embedded in the ice surface. First, the stone is pulled backward
where it may or may not be lifted off the ice surface, and then the curler
and the stone glide forward together, the curler in stretched out pose.
The stone must be released before it crosses the hog line to continue
its glide toward the house at the other end of the sheet. The stone is
released so that it rotates during its glide down the sheet, and this
rotation makes it move gradually sideways, much like a very slow curve
ball. This lateral motion is called curl.
team consists of four players, called the lead, second,
third and skip, and they each deliver two stones
in that order. The skip, as the name indicates, is the team captain, who
decides where he/she wants the particular stone to end up, holds his/her
broom for the deliverer of the stone to aim at, and directs sweeping.
When it is the skips turn to deliver stones, the third temporarily
acts as skip. The two team members that are not delivering a stone may
be called on by the skip to sweep in front of the delivered stone. Such
sweeping will both make a stone travel farther and reduce its curl, and
so, can be used to assist the stone to behave in the manner desired by
the skip. Vigorous sweeping requires curlers to be fit, and in a typical
two hour game a curler walks almost two miles.
Prior to games the sheet is sprinkled with water, which freezes
and produces a pebble like surface. Without this pebble the concave shape
of the stone would work as a suction cup, but with it, the rotating stone
curls nicely down the sheet. Ice making for curling requires both art
and science, involving control of temperature, air moisture content, purity
of water, and pebbling among other things.
Curlers always insist the game to be one of strategy, and not only
because they want to be seen as doing more than just throwing rocks and
slipping around on ice. A great deal of thought and effort goes into ensuring
that your team has one or more stones closest to the button at the conclusion
of each end. This can be accomplished by having the stone delivered with
just the right speed, so that it stops where you want it to in the house
- a draw as seen here where the rock stops on the button.