Curling Tests Strategy, Teamwork Using Granite Stones on Ice

Curling is a game of strategy, teamwork and skill in which granite stones move slowly across an ice-covered rink.

Sports enthusiasts liken curling to “chess on ice" because of the complexity of the stone placement and shot selection.

Two teams compete in curling. Each team has four players who wear specialized curling pants and shoes. Each team also has eight granite stones, which weigh 38 to 44 pounds.

The teams take turns sliding their eight stones on ice to a circular target at one end of the rink. If players on a team don't plan ahead and work together, the stones can miss the target or go through it.

The players on each team take turns as the curler. It is the curler’s responsibility to determine the path a stone takes. A handle is attached to the top of a stone. The curler uses the handle to grip and rotate the stone before releasing it.

Two players serve as sweepers. They use curling brooms to alter the path of the stone so that it rests closest to the center of the target.

The target consists of three colored rings. The diameters of the rings are four feet, eight feet and 12 feet. The rings help determine which stone is closer to the center of the target.

The teams play 10 ends, which are similar to innings in baseball. The team with the highest number of accumulated points after completing 10 ends is the winner.

Olympic Curling

Curling was introduced as an official Olympic winter sport in 1988. It was played as a demonstration event during two previous Olympic Winter Games.

At the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, Great Britain and Ireland won gold medals in curling.. Sweden won two silver medals. France was awarded the broze medal.

A curling tournament between four Canadian teams and four United States teams was held at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. Canada won 12 games to 4.

The International Olympic Committee decided in February 2006 that curling would be an Olympic winter event and no longer a demonstration event.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics, curling involved a men's tournament and a women's tournament. The team winners in the men's tournament were Canada with the gold medal; Norway, the silver medal; and Swiitzerland, the bronze medal. The winning teams in the women's tournament were Sweden with the gold medal; Canada, the silver medal; and China, the bronze medal.

History of Curling

Curling was supposedly invented in late medieval Scotland. The records of Paisley, Abbey, Renfrewshire, Scotland, refer to a contest in which stones are played on ice. However, two paintings by Pieter Abbey, the Elder, in 1565 depict Dutch peasants curling.

A curling stone with 1511 inscribed on it and another curling stone marked with 1551 were found after a pond was drained in Dunblane, Scotland. This gave proof that curling existed in Scotland during the early 16th century.

Curling was also known in Scotland as “the roaring game.” The stones made a roaring sound as it traveled over droplets of water on the playing surface. A game was originally played with flat-bottomed river stones. The person rolling the stone had little control over it and relied on luck and not strategy and skill.

Weavers in Darvel, East Ayrshire, Scotland, used heavy stone weights with a detachable handle when they played curling matches. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, curling was played outdoors because of wintery ice conditions.

Curling has been a favorite sport in Canada since Scottish emigrants came to the North American country. The sport was introduced in the United States about the mid-19th century. By the end of that century, curling was introduced in Switzerland and Sweden. Curling is also played throughout Europe and in Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

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