So What the Heck is Curling?
Getting Started in Curling
So you’ve seen curling on television or someone at work or school is talking about it, but what exactly is this sport of curling all about? Here are the basics that you need to know.
Meet people and play with friends
Curling is great exercise!
Curling is very affordable
People of any age or ability can play.
Play against great competition
Curling is fun!
Younger people learning the game should develop the feel of good equipment from the start, since many of them will become top-calibre curlers. Recreational curlers who curl only occasionally may consider purchasing less expensive equipment, keeping in mind that, in comparison with other sports, the difference in cost for top-line equipment versus second-line is slight. With better equipment, a curler will have greater enthusiasm and realize more enjoyment in curling.
It is important for a curler to have knowledge of the types of curling equipment available for purchase. Emphasis is placed on key items such as:
- selection of appropriate footwear
- correct surfacing of the sliding foot and grip foot
- selection of brushes or brooms
Here are a couple of Curling Gear Guide videos that will provide you with additional information on the products available from a variety of curling equipment suppliers.
Sweaters or Fleece Vests
Curling has become a participation sport for the fashion-conscious. Most of the top competitive teams wear matching pants and sweaters or training suits, complete with names for identification. Many types of sweaters are available, all providing warmth and ease of movement. Many teams now wear colorful tops with matching slacks. The important thing is to wear clothes that are warm and comfortable and which allow ease of movement.
Pants made specifically for curling are of a stretch material that allows for easy movement during the delivery. Many teams now wear colorful tops with matching slacks. The important thing is to wear clothes that are warm and comfortable and which allow ease of movement.
To be able to deliver a stone correctly, a curler requires a proper sliding show, one having a slick, low-friction material that covers the entire sole and heel.
Various types of slider materials are available. Some are made of hard, durable synthetic materials which are very “fast”; others are made of softer synthetic material which tend to be slightly “slower”. One example of such a material that has been popular for many years is Teflon plastic.
The sliding show should only be worn on the curling ice. Protectors should be placed over the slider to prevent damage to it while walking off the ice. Protectors are commercially available in various slip-on types. A very effective type of slider protector is one made in the form of a slip-on “gripper”. This type can double as a gripper for the non-sliding foot, or as a gripper for the sliding foot for those curlers who prefer to brush with grippers on both feet.
While a slider is essential, it is equally important to have the non-sliding foot equipped with a surface that will grip the cie well and ensure proper balance. Common types of grippers are soles made of a pebbled type of rubber or those made of a soft crepe-like rubber.
The choice of curling gloves is important. Gloves provide warmth and protection for the hands during sweeping or brushing. For curlers who throw with the glove on it is necessary for the glove to fit snugly in order to retain the “feel” of the stone during delivery. The most popular type of curling gloves are made either of deer skin or calf skin. Calf skin gloves are less expensive than those of deer skin, but they are also less durable.
Prior to the 1980s, the common sweeping device used in Canada was almost exclusively the corn broom, or a synthetic broom modelled after the corn type. The brush was rarely seen even though it was quite common in Europe. However, during the 1980s, the use of the brush increased dramatically, and is now used almost exclusively by Canadian curlers.
Most brushes are made with either hog hair or horse hair. Hog hair brushes are slightly more durable and higher in cost. Synthetic brushes are also available and are gaining in popularity. These are usually made with nylon fabric covering the brush head. Various adaptations to the “standard” brush, including different handle shapes, have been made by manufacturers in their attempts to make sweeping with a brush easier and more effective.
Each side of a curling stone has a concave area commonly referred to as the cup. The edge of the cup is appropriately named the running surface, and it is this thin edge that actually contacts the ice.
An acceptable curling stone must be able to resist abrasion and be tough, dense, resilient, uniform in color and non-absorbent. This latter quality is highly important because moisture penetrating a sonte and then freezing will cause chipping or pitting of the surface of the stone. Granite from the British Isles satisfies the requirements better than any other so far discovered, and is used almost exclusively.
The running surface is not polished like the rest of the stone, but is comparatively rough. For curling to be played as we experience it, the running surface must never be allowed to wear smoother or to be damaged.
A dull grey band around the greatest circumference of the stone is the striking surface of the stone, and is designed to absorb the shock when one stone strikes another.
The line across the ice at the back of the house. Stones which are over this line are removed from play.
A stone that just touches the outer edge of the circles.
An end in which no points have been scored.
A curling competition or tournament.
A device used to sweep the ice in the path of a moving stone.
A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play.
The circle at the centre of the house.
Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point.
The amount a rock bends while travelling down the sheet of ice.
The momentum required for a stone to reach the house or cirlces at the distant end.
A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and the score has been decided.
A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect another stone.
The foot-holds at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered.
A rock delivered with a greater force than necessary.
A take-out. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.
A line 10 meters from the hack at each end of the ice.
A stone that does not reach the far hog line. It must be removed from play.
The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button.
The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes it to rotate in a clockwise direction and curl for a right-handed curler.
The first player on a team to deliver a pair of stones for his/her team in each end.
The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes it to turn and curl in a counter-clockwise direction for a right-handed curler.
A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of curling ice before commencing play.
When one stone is bumped ahead by another.
The movement of a curling stone after it has struck a stationary stone in play.
The curler who delivers the second pair of stones for hi/her team in each end.
The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played.
At any time during an end, the stone closest to the button.
The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end.
An alternate player or substitute.
Slippery material placed on the sole of the shoe, to make it easier to slide on the ice.
The action of moving a broom or brush back and forth in the path of a moving stone.
Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.
The line that passes through the centre of the house parallel to the hog line and backline.
THIRD, VICE-SKIP OR MATE
The third player on a team to throw two stones in each end. Generally this player acts as the skip when the skip is delivering his/her stones and assists with shot selection decisions.
The amount of force given to the stone during the delivery.
A target, the house, is marked at each end of the sheet. The house consists of three concentric rings formed by painting or laying coloured vinyl sheet under the ice and are usually distinguished by colour. These rings are defined by their diameters as the four-foot, eight-foot and12-foot rings. The rings are merely a visual aid for aiming and judging which stone is closer to the centre; they do not affect scoring but a stone must at least touch the outer ring or it does not score.
Each house is centred on the intersection of the centre line, drawn one-half inch in width the length of the sheet through the centre of the tee lines. These lines divide the houses into quarters.
The centre of each house, at the intersection of the centre line and the tee line, is known as the button. Two hog lines are drawn 21 feet from the centre of the tee line.
The hacks are fixed behind each button; a hack gives the thrower something to push against when making the throw. On indoor rinks, there are usually two fixed hacks, rubber-lined holes, one on each side of the centre line. A single moveable hack may also be used.
The ice may be natural but is usually frozen by a refrigeration plant pumping a brine solution through numerous pipes fixed lengthwise at the bottom of a shallow pan of water. Most curling clubs have an ice maker whose main job is to care for the ice. At the major curling championships, ice maintenance is extremely important. Large events, such as the Tim Hortons Brier or other national/international championships, are typically held in an arena that presents a challenge to the ice maker, who must constantly monitor and adjust the ice and air temperatures as well as air humidity levels to ensure a consistent playing surface. It is common for each sheet of ice to have multiple sensors embedded in order to monitor surface temperature, as well as probes set up in the seating area (to monitor humidity) and in the compressor room (to monitor brine supply and return temperatures).
A key part of the preparation of the playing surface is the spraying of water droplets onto the ice, which form pebble on freezing. As the stone moves over the pebble, any rotation of the stone causes it to curl to the inside or outside. The amount of curl (commonly referred to as the feet of curl) can change during a game as the pebble wears; the ice maker must monitor this and be prepared to scrape and re-pebble the surface prior to each game.
*Information found on this page has been pulled from the Curling Canada website www.curling.ca