If you do not watch curling, then you make a huge mistake, because curling is the best sport ever invented. No, really, really.
Curling is simple to learn, but complex. It takes very little athletics, if not a touch of skill, strong vocal cords and an ability to sweep like a maid.
It’s incredibly easy to imagine yourself as the best curler in the world while marveling at a perfectly executed takeaway. Above all, there is no need for officials or referees of any kind, a glorious and welcome respite from virtually every other major sport.
It is not decided by the judges, which automatically makes it better than many other Olympic events.
Since you probably have not watched curling since the Vancouver Games (if any), here’s a quick reminder of how the game works, some basic strategies and jargon so you can scare your entire family by saying foolery.
What does it look like?
Curling has a crazy amount of jargon, which partly explains why it’s so great. In about three paragraphs, I’ll type a complete gibberish, but you’ll understand it.
How many players per team at Curling? How do we play ?
The teams are composed of four players. Each team alternately slides 42-pound stones (also called stones because they are made of dense granite) from one end of the sheet to the other, both pulling in the same direction.
What looks like a dartboard is called the “house” and the target is the “button” (this game is so deliciously welcoming and non-threatening, the principle of the sport is to slide the stones slowly). There are a lot of lines to keep things organized. The line running along the center of the leaf from one end of the leaf to the other is reasonably called the middle line. A stone must stop between the line of play (21 feet in front of the center [sorry, center] of the house) and the back line (you have this one) to stay in play. The line of the tee goes through the button perpendicular to the median line. I imagined that he was given this name because he made a “T” with the central line. It may not be true, but it makes sense.
The last technical thing you need to know is the free guard zone. On the picture above, this is the area highlighted in green, from the line of play to the phone line, but does not include the house. This zone exists because the first four stones thrown (the term is “thrown” even if no one throws stones of 42 pounds) can not be removed from the free guard zone. If they are touched, the stone is replaced and the blow does not count without redoing.
How does the score work? How many sleeves?
There are 10 innings, which are like sleeves, where each team launches alternately eight stones each. The goal of this impeccable game is to have the stones closest to the button when an end ends.
The notation is very simple, although it may seem a bit convoluted at first. You get one point for each stone closer to the button than any of the opposing team’s stones. Only stones inside the house count. So if the red team has two stones closer to the button than the yellow stone closest to the yellow team, Red scores two points. A basic logic follows: only one team can score in a set, but if neither team has a stone in the house, neither team gets points in what is called an empty round.
- Curling stones have two faces, one is rougher than the other. Use the rougher side on the fast ice and the smoother side on the slower ice. The handle is removable and allows you to easily switch from one side to the other depending on the conditions.
- The caller who does not sweep must tell the sweepers how to sweep to direct the shot where he will score or remove the opponent’s marking stone.
- Do not get hit by a curling stone because it can knock you over or even break bones if you are crushed by a fast moving stone.