What is curling?

Curling features two teams of four players sliding a large, granite stone on a rectangular sheet of ice. The goal is to deliver the stone from one side of the sheet to the circular scoring area on the other side, called the house. The closer to the center of the house, known as the button, the better.

Curling began in 16th century Scotland on frozen lakes and ponds. Men’s curling was first included in the 1924 Winter Olympics program in Chamonix, France, but it wasn’t until 1998 that it became an official Olympic sport.

A team consists of:

a skip, who is the team captain and in charge of strategy,
a lead, who delivers the first two stones and sweeps the next six,
a second, who throws the third and fourth stones, and
a third, or vice skip, who throws the fifth and sixth stones and decides strategy when the skip is delivering the seventh and eighth stones.

Once the team sets its lineup, it must follow the same order for the entire game.

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The delivery starts with the player placing one foot on a foothold, known as the hack.

U.S. Curling

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Sweepers use the curling broom to clear the path for the stone and reduce friction.

U.S. Curling

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There are several types of shots in curling. Here are three of them: A draw is a shot designed to stop inside or near the house.

U.S. Curling

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A take-out is a shot that is thrown to remove another stone from play.

U.S. Curling

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A guard is a stone that stops in front of another in the house, making it more difficult for the opponents to take out the scoring stone.

U.S. Curling

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After the stone is thrown, the skip yells to sweepers on how and when to sweep.

U.S. Curling

A full game consists of 10 ends, similar to an inning in baseball, and each team has eight stones per end.

Only the team with the stone closest to the button within the house scores in an end. The team scores one point for each stone closer than its opponent’s best stone.

Here, Team Red’s stone is the closest to the button. They have five better stones than Team Yellow’s best stone and gain five points.

USA Curling

It is possible for no one to score points in an end if neither team stopped any stones within the house.

Individual scores from all 10 ends are added at the end of the game, and the team with the highest cumulative score wins.