The Game

Origins of Curling

One of the most hotly debated subjects in curling is with regards to the exact origin of the game. There is some evidence to suggest Dutch beginnings; there is yet other evidence that points toward Scotland as the birthplace of the sport. Rev. John Ramsay published a book entitled “An Account of the Game of Curling” in 1811. Rev. Ramsay argued that the origins of curling were Continental Europe due to words such as bonspiel, curl and rink apparently having a Dutch or Germanic origin.

Sketch of traditional curlers Sketch of traditional curlers

This compelling argument was refuted by Rev. John Kerr in his book, “A History of Curling” published in 1890. Rev. Kerr pointed out that many curling terms had a Celtic or Teutonic origin. Examples would be draw, hack, hog, skip and tee. Rev. Kerr contended that if curling had been brought to Scotland by the Flemish during the 1500′s, why was there no mention of its introduction prior to 1600?

This argument is further complicated by early Dutch artwork. An engraving by R. de Baudous (1575-1644) appears to show players sliding large, wooden disks along frozen canals. Other sketches and drawing of the same era show a Dutch game called “kuting”, which was played with frozen lumps of earth.

Obviously, there is no known evidence of these frozen lumps of earth, as they would fall through the ice with the spring thaw and fall to the bottom of the canals and ponds upon which the game was played.

The Stirling Stone-dated 1511. The Stirling Stone-dated 1511.

The earliest known curling stone is the one pictured at the right, called the “Stirling Stone”, it was discovered when an old pond was drained at Dunblane, Scotland. This stone is inscribed with the date “1511″, thereby making it the oldest known curling stone. This stone could best be described as a “loofie”, derived from the Scottish word for hand. These “loofies” were eventually replaced by larger “channel stanes”, or smooth, river stones with added handles. Later, other materials would be used for curling stones. Wood, cast iron and eventually the peerless granite of today would all have their turn as the material of choice.

Though the exact origin of the game will most likely always remain a mystery, it is certain that the Scots embraced and enhanced the game and worked toward standardization of equipment and rules.

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Getting Organized

The early 1800′s saw tremendous growth in the popularity of curling in Scotland. necessitating a uniform set of rules. In 1804, the Duddingston Club became the first to set forth the “Rules in Curling”. The rules were logical and straight forward, and bear a remarkable similarity to those used today.

As more and more clubs formed, it became evident that a governing body was needed for the sport. John Cairnie was an accomplished curler, and had even built a curling hall at Largs, Scotland in 1813. Mr. Cairnie took the reins of formation of this governing body. In 1833, he called on all Scottish clubs to submit names of officers, numbers of curlers and match results. All of this information was used to create the Grand Caledonian Curling Club in Edinburgh in 1838. It began providing it’s members with “The Annuals”, an annual record of curling that has been published since 1839. In 1843, the club was patronized by a member of the Royal Family and was renamed the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The club has been patronized by a member of the Royal Family since that time, and more specifically, by either the King or Queen since 1900.

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club worked on the standardization of the rules, game and equipment. The club promoted the use of round stones manner of play and team composition. The club is responsible for defining a team as 4 players throwing 2 matched stones each, rather than a single stone thrown by each of 8 players. The Royal Caledonian was also instrumental in the standardization of the stones, with the Ailsa Craig granite being the prevalent choice.

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A Brave New World

Scottish emigrants and soldiers helped to spread the sport throughout the world. The North American origins of curling have been attributed to Scottish soldiers, stationed in Canada, melting down cannonballs to create curling stones in the late 1700′s. The first curling club in North America was the Montreal Curling Club, established in 1807.

Old-time Canadian curlers Old-time Canadian curlers

American curling got its start in the Detroit area in the 1830′s. A group of Scottish immigrants shipwrecked on the shore of Lake St. Clair, en route to Chicago. They decided to stay in the area, and formed the Orchard Lake Curling Club, complete with hickory “stones” in 1832. Soon other clubs sprung up around the country: Boston, 1839; Milwaukee, 1843; Chicago, 1854. The Milwaukee Curling Club prides itself as the oldest continuously operating curling club in the U.S.

The sport enjoyed considerable growth in the Northern Midwest states, primarily Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, throughout the mid- to late 1800′s. In 1852, a branch of the Royal Caledonian was established in Canada. The first American Association was founded 15 years later, in 1867, as the Grand National Curling Club. This group of twelve clubs was also an affiliate of the Royal Caledonian. Despite the sport’s continued growth, especially post World War 1, curling remained largely a regional sport until 1927.

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Let the Games Begin!

In 1927, the first Canadian National Championship was held. This was the real impetus behind the growth and nationalization of a previously, mainly local and regional sport. Another boom in the sport post-WWII led to a proliferation of curling organizations. The Midwest Association was formed in 1945, and represented curlers from Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois, followed by the U.S. Women’s Curling Association in 1947.

Image of a curler in traditional garb. Image of a curler in traditional garb.

In the 50′s and 60′s, organizations and associations were forming at a rapid pace. The first U.S. National Championships were held at Chicago Stadium in 1957, with teams from 10 states competing. 1958 saw the birth of the U.S. Men’s Curling Association, and the first World Championship tournament. In 1965, Bud Somerville of Superior, Wisconsin skipped the first non-Canadian team to win a World Championship. The International Curling Federation was formed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1966. Combining the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Associations in 1976 created the U.S. Curling Association. The USCA is a member of both the U.S. Olympic Committee and the World Curling Federation.

After several years as a demonstration sport at the Winter Olympics, curling finally made its debut as a full medal sport at the Nagano, Japan Olympics in 1998.

Today, curling is played in 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. While Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota have long had active curling clubs, other Great Lakes states, New England and Mid-Atlantic states are also home to numerous clubs. Minnesota boasts the largest club, the 1,200 member St. Paul club. There are also dedicated curlers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Missouri, Texas and Washington. There are approximately 165 curling clubs across the U.S., with nearly 20,000 active curlers. There are estimates of nearly an equal number of “recreational” curlers. Worldwide, it is estimated that as many as 1.5 million people in 49 countries enjoy curling.

Though never as popular as some other winter sports, the popularity of curling continues to grow, possibly fueled primarily by the most recent Olympic exposure. The sport is often passed down through families, in many small towns and rural areas, providing much needed entertainment on those long winter nights.

Although its origin may never be resolved, curling holds the same allure to its’ enthusiasts as it probably did to that first person, hundreds of years ago, who chanced to push a stone along the surface of a frozen pond. Listening to the sound, watching the way the stone moved and curved, this unwitting individual had created a sport enjoyed by millions. Thank you!

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The Sheet

Curling is played on a “sheet” of ice that is 146′ long by 14′ to 15′ wide. Down the center of each sheet of ice is a “centerline”. Perpendicular to the centerline and 16′ from each end of the sheet is another line called the “teeline”. A series of concentric circles are placed at this intersection. This set of circles is referred to as the “house”. The smallest is 1′ in diameter and is called the “button”. Next is 4′ diameter circle, known as the “four foot”. Then an 8′ diameter circle, known as the “eight foot”. Lastly comes a 12′ diameter circle which is called, you guessed it, the “twelve foot”. At the backside of the 12′ circle, and parallel with the teeline is another line called the “backline”. Six feet behind this backline is something called the “hack”. Frozen into the ice, usually with rubber pads, it loosely resembles a starting block in track, and is used for pushing off when delivering the rocks. It is typically another 4′ from the back of the hack to the end of each sheet. Another important line is 21′ in front of and parallel to the teeline. This line is called the “hogline”. It is 72′ from the hogline on one end to the hogline on the other. Optionally, there may be two other guidelines on a sheet. They would extend from either outer edge of the 4′ circle on one end, to the other end, running parallel to the centerline. The colors of the circles may vary from club to club, though the button is most commonly white. The hog and backlines are usually black, the center and teelines usually blue or red. Occasionally, some clubs will have logos or other advertising located somewhere in the sheet. All of these things are painted on the surface below the ice and show through.

The sheet area is flooded with water and a series of refrigerated pipes embedded in the concrete freeze the water as it is applied, much like a hockey rink. The surface of the ice is not left smooth however. It is “pebbled” by applying a thin coating of droplets of warm water to the surface. This is usually done with a specialized piece of equipment called a “pebbling can” or “pebbler”. This pebbled surface actually is part of what allows the rock to turn, or curl. Most smaller clubs will have a volunteer who becomes the “iceman”. For much larger clubs, this is a paid position. The iceman is responsible for ensuring a consistently playable ice surface for the club.

Image of ice sheet layout Image of ice sheet layout

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The Rocks

Though they have come in many different varieties and materials over the years, most modern curling stones are made from a peerless granite quarried on a small Scottish island called Aisla Craig in the Firth of Clyde. The density and consistency of this granite has made it the ideal choice for curling stones. Each stone is meticulously finished to exacting specifications. It may not exceed 36″ in circumference and 4 1/2″ in height. They weigh approximately 42 pounds each. Each stone has a handle at the top that is usually molded out of plastic or a composite material.

Modern curling stone with a red handle Modern curling stone with a red handle

The bottom of the stone is concave, with a flat “running surface” at the outer edge. The sides of the stone are rounded, with the exception of the equator, which has a flattened surface.This flattened surface is the point of contact between two stones and it helps to prevent chipping. The handle of the rocks usually has two numbers on it. One of these numbers correlates to the ice sheet number that the stone belongs to. The other number is the rock’s number. The rocks are played in order by each team, with the “lead” throwing #1 & #2, the “second” throwing #3 & #4, the “third” throwing #5 & #6 and the “skip” throwing #7 & #8. Rocks for each team are usually differentiated by having different colored handles. Modern stones are nearly identical in every aspect allowing for greater consistency and shotmaking. One set of 16 stones for a single sheet costs about $6,000 to 7,000. Fortunately, the club supplies these!

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The Broom

Modern carbonite broom with a synthetic pad Modern carbonite broom with a synthetic pad

The lowly broom, typically relegated to cleaning up messes, plays an integral role in the sport of curling. With out it, little would be possible. It serves as a target and a balance aid. It makes rocks go faster, straighter and farther. It is held by the “skip” as an aiming aid for the curler delivering the rock. It also provides the curler with much needed balance during the delivery of the rock. Additionally, the sweepers, at the direction of the skip, will use their brooms to straighten the path, increase the speed or improve the distance of any rock that may have (inadvertently) been delivered incorrectly.

While the rocks are virtually similar, brooms come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. High-tech carbon fiber handled products have become available in this sport too. The broom shaft is either carbon-fiber, fiberglass or wood. The brush portion can be made from a variety of materials including pile, horsehair and even the more traditional broomcorn. Obviously, there are a variety of prices and details, but in the end it is a matter of budget and preference as to which is best for the individual. Most clubs will have a wide selection of brooms that the beginner can borrow while learning to curl. Cost: starting at about $30, to $150 or more.

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Other Equipment

The other basic equipment for the beginning curler would include a pair of clean shoes with soft rubber soles, some warm clothing, possibly a pair of thin, flexible gloves and a “slider”. This is a piece of flat synthetic material that is attached to a large elastic band. The synthetic material on the bottom covers the sole of the shoe and allows the curler to slide easier when delivering the rock. The elastic holds the slider in place, on the regular shoe. The slider comes in either a half slider, or a full slider, which covers either half, or all of the sole of the shoe. Slider typically run about $15 to $20.

That’s about all you really need to get started. As the curler progresses in ability, there are stopwatches for timing the speed of the ice, curling shoes, sliding aids, and outerwear. And even curling sticks for curlers with physical limitations. Curling shoes look similar to a low-cut basketball or tennis shoe, however they have the slider built into the sole of the shoe. There are different materials for the slider that provide either more or less friction, depending on the prevailing ice conditions. These shoes often come with a rubber slip-on overshoe that covers the slider and provides traction on the ice. Prices usually start around $100 per pair. Sliding aids are used in lieu of the broom during the delivery of the rock. This is more a matter of personal preference and technique. A decent sliding aid is around $40 to $50. Curling pants are designed to provide warmth and flexibility at the same time. Jackets tend to be lined nylon. The curling stick is a relatively recent invention that allows curlers with physical limitations such as knee, hip and back problems, to continue to play the game. The stick allows curlers to deliver the rock from an upright position. This creation has extended the career of many avid curlers, and has become so popular that some clubs have leagues strictly devoted to stick curlers.

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The Team

At the club level, a team typically consists of four curlers, occasionally with a fifth who may serve as a substitute or fill-in. The curler that goes first is called the “lead”. The second curler is called the “second” and the third curler is called the “third” or sometimes “vice skip”. The curler who shoots last is called the “skip”. The skip has the responsibility for calling the game and determining strategy, much like a baseball manager, all the while playing—unlike a baseball manger. Leads, seconds and thirds are all responsible for alternately delivering rocks and sweeping (as needed) the rocks of their teammates. The skip stands at the opposite end of the sheet from the delivery hack and determines the “turn” or “curl” to throw, the “weight” or strength of the throw, the direction and when to sweep (or quit sweeping) based on the situation at hand in the game. When it is the skip’s turn to throw, the third (vice skip) assumes the role of the skip, while the lead and second continue as sweepers.

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The Game

So you have your shoes, your slider and your broom. You’ve shown up at the club and you’re ready to curl. Now what? Well, there is a certain amount of protocol. Both teams will meet on the sheet upon which they will be playing. Curlers shake hands with all of the other curlers on both teams and wish one another luck by saying “Good curling”. If not already determined, there is usually a coin toss to determine which team goes first and which team goes last, or has the “hammer”.

The lead for one team goes first, then the lead for the other team. Each curler throws two rocks. This alternating of turns repeats until all curlers have thrown their rocks and the “end” has been completed. An end usually takes about 15 minutes to play and matches are usually either 8 or 10 ends. However, sometimes in the case of an insurmountable lead, a team may concede the game prior to the completion of all ends. Those are the basics, but now, let’s look a little more closely at the individual components of the game.

Delivery:

Delivery of the rock begins with the curler getting the appropriately numbered rock for the turn out of the area where they are kept, near the back, outside edge of the sheet. The curler crouches in the area of the hack. It is good policy to gently tip the rock onto one side and while holding the handle with one hand, gently clean the bottom running surface of the rock of any accumulated debris or dirt. This is important as any small piece of lint, hair, ice chip etc. that the rock may encounter on its path down the sheet could send the most well-thrown rock awry. The curler then gets into the hack, placing their right foot (for a right-handed curler) in the left hack cup. The curler is squatting with the rock on the ice slightly ahead of the right foot and the handle is held gently in the fingers of the right hand, at either a 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock position, as directed by the skip. The broom or sliding aid is in the left hand and is used for balance. The motion starts by sliding the rock, the broom and the left foot back simultaneously, while raising the hips slightly. The forward motion begins by pushing off with the right foot and lowering the hips which creates the forward slide action. The right leg and foot extends out behind the curler, acting as a rudder and stabilizer. The curler’s weight is primarily balanced on the left foot, which is underneath a bent left knee, directly under the center of the chest. The curler slides out with the shoulders square to the line to the skip’s broom or target and the weight is balanced over the left foot as the slide continues out on a line toward the broom target. Prior to reaching the hogline, the curler releases the rock by returning the handle from the 10 or 2 o’clock position to the 12 o’clock position. This movement will generate a small amount of spin on the rock, which in turn creates the curl. Moving the rock from 10 to 12 o’clock creates a clockwise, or “in turn” spin which makes the rock move from left to right as it travels down the sheet. Moving the rock from 2 to 12 o’clock does the opposite. Upon gently releasing the rock, the curler will usually slide a bit further down the ice, only as a means of follow through.

Sweeping:

Sweeping is a vital component in the game of curling. The ultimate outcome of any one shot is a function of three basics parameters: speed, direction and/or spin. Sweeping can help to improve an errant shot. A rock can be swept by the sweepers from teeline to teeline. The skip for either team may sweep a rock once it crosses the teeline. Sweeping consists of a rapid back and forth movement of the broom in front of the rock while applying considerable downward pressure. It is important to make sure that the sweepers do not touch or “foul” the rock while sweeping. Sweeping can have the following effects on the rock: 1.) Straighten out a rock that is off course directionally or 2.) Speed up a rock that is moving too slowly to reach its intended target. Since each rock’s path is a function of speed, direction and spin, the skip ( or vice skip during the skip’s turn) uses their best judgment and experience as to when to sweep and how long to sweep to create the desired shot. This is an art form that usually takes many years of curling to perfect.

Scoring:

Scoring is done by having rock in the house, nearer the center than the competitor’s rocks. In other words, only one team can score per end. The maximum number of points in an end is 8, one for each rock nearer the tee than the opponent’s closest rock. A rock only need be touching the house to count. Below is an example of a scoreboard, with an explanation to follow.

Example of a curling scoreboard Example of a curling scoreboard

In the above example, the scoring is as follows:

  • End #1: Red Team scores 1. Score is 1-0 Red.
  • End #2: Yellow Team scores 3. Yellow leads 3-1.
  • End #3: Yellow Team scores 2. Yellow leads 5-1.
  • End #4: Blank End. Neither team scores. Yellow still leads 5-1.
  • End #5: Red Team scores 2. Yellow leads 5-3.
  • End #6: Red Team scores 4. Red leads 7-5.
  • End #7: Yellow Team scores 2. Score is tied at 7.
  • End #8: Red Team scores 1. Red wins 8-7.

The numbers down the center black section represent the total number of points for each team. The white rectangles with numbers on them are the ends. So in the above example, the yellow team scored in the second, third and seventh ends, while the red team scored in the first, fifth, sixth and eighth ends. Neither team scored in the fourth end, thus the absence of the white rectangle with “4″ on it. If the score is tied at the end of the predetermined number of ends, the game will go into a sort of sudden death scenario, in which additional ends are played until a winner emerges. The vice skips are responsible for determining the score on each end. All rocks that are a similar distance from the tee are measured to determine scoring. The team that scores points on an end leads off the next end. The first shot will stay with that team until the other team scores.

Sportsmanship & Etiquette:
The game starts and ends with handshakes. “Good curling” is used before the match begins. It is good sportsmanship to compliment the good shots made by others, including one’s opponents. Courtesy and respect are a must. Be quiet, stay out of the way and be ready when it is your turn to curl. Stay out of the house while the vice skips are determining the score. Keep the ice clean at all times and if allowed, never practice on the sheet that you’ll be playing on. Always arrive at the club at least 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled start of the game and try to get a substitute if you are unable to play. Finish each game with a handshake and say “Good game”. Club rules dictate who cleans the ice and/or pebbles afterward. Opponents usually will enjoy some refreshments and conversation after the game. Camaraderie is a large part of the sport. Curling is fun, don’t lose sight of that!

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Strategy

There are two basic styles of play in curling, the “draw” game and the “take-out” game. While most teams will have a predominant style of play, there are also many other factors that determine the type of game played. Much of curling is situational, with that particular situation at hand dictating strategy. The ability and attitudes of your teammates, along with those of your opponents may require a certain style of play. The score, ice conditions, which end it is and who has the hammer are also factors to be considered. Overall play is meant either to score, to protect a scoring rock or to prevent your opponent from scoring.

The Draw Game :

This is generally a more offensive or aggressive style of play that requires more finesse shots that are riskier and more difficult. This style of play is designed to score more than one point, or to steal points from an opponent. The most common types of shots are “guards”, “freezes”, “raises” and “come-arounds”. The guard typically stops between the hogline and the house and is meant to guard a rock so an opponent cannot take it out. The freeze stops immediately in front of another rock. Raises move another rock into the house. The come-around is a shot that curls around a guard and stops in the house. When having the hammer, most skips will advocate this style of play to attempt to score more than one point. Also, slow ice, fast ice, and “swingy” ice (ice that curls a lot) dictates this style of play. If behind late in the game, most skips will want to play into the house with the draw game.

The Take-out Game :

While this style of play is more defensive in nature, it is also mainly comprised of shots that are easier to make. It is designed to both remove opponents’ rocks from the house, and to keep the front of the house as open as possible. This type of play is much more conservative, and is designed to hold a lead, keep the game close or hold the opposition to one point when they ave the hammer. The shots used are the “raise”, the “hit and stick” and the “hit and roll”. The raise promotes a stone into another rock in an attempt to move it out of play. The hit and stick is a take-out that removes a rock and comes to rest in virtually the same spot it was when it made contact with the other stone. A hit and roll takes out a rock and then spins a short distance, usually behind a guard. Without the hammer, most skips will use this strategy to try to limit the opposition to just one point. On straight ice that doesn’t curl much, offense is generally created with freezes and draws and this will mandate more of a take-out style of play. If your team has a big lead late in the game, the skip will usually want to prevent your opponent from scoring by utilizing the take-out game.

(Great animations of shots can be found at curlingbasics.com)

There are also other factors that influence the style of play. One of these is the “Free Guard Zone”. The FGZ is the area between the hogline and the house. If a lead puts a rock in the FGZ, it cannot be taken out by the lead from the opposing team. Therefore, the position of the lead’s rocks is critical to the manner of play for that end. Rock placement on the sheet is also dictated by the FGZ, the score , the end and the hammer. The team with the hammer will attempt to split the house by placing rocks away from the center of the sheet, keeping open access to the four foot circle. This creates an opportunity to score multiple points. Teams without the hammer like to keep rocks close to the center of the sheet to control access to the four foot circle. An aggressive strategy will utilize rock placement in the FGZ. This will help to get as many rocks in play as possible. This is usually done later in the game, once players have established the correct weight for the ice, or when the team is down by two or more points. A more conservative strategy ignores the FGZ and throws rocks in, or through, the house. It also means removing any opposition rocks from the front of the house as soon as possible. This is either done early in the game, or to protect a lead.

While a team may rely on an overall strategy, that strategy is subject to change, based on the situation at hand in the game. Depending on that situation, it is possible to be playing both offense and defense on consecutive rocks! Remember, curling is not just about placing the rocks where the skips wants them, it also means keeping your opponents from placing their rocks where their skip wants them.

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Curling Terms:

This list of curling terms is directly from the United States Curling Association’s website: USA Curl

.

  • BONSPIELS – curling tournaments.
  • BROOM – the instrument used to sweep the ice. Brooms with brush heads are most common.
  • CURL – a twist of the stone’s handle upon release makes the stone curl, or curve, as it travels down the ice. The rock curls in the direction of the turn.
  • DELIVERY – the body motion of a curler as the rock is being shot.
  • DRAW – a rock that stops in front of or in the house.
  • END – similar to an inning in baseball. One end is complete when all 16 rocks (eight per team) have been thrown to one end. A game is usually eight ends, or about two hours. Championship games are 10 ends, or about 2 1/2 hours. After each end, the score is determined.
  • FREEZE – a draw that finishes in front of and next to another rock.
  • GUARD – a rock between the hog line and the house used to prevent the opposition from hitting a rock in the house.
  • HACK – a rubber foothold from which curlers deliver the rock. It is about 125 feet from the scoring area.
  • HAMMER – the last rock of each end.
  • HEAVY ICE – when the ice is “slow” and the rocks have to be thrown harder.
  • HOG LINES – located 21 feet from each tee. A rock must be released before the near hog line, and travel beyond the far hog line, or it is removed from play.
  • HOUSE – the scoring area, 12 feet in diameter, with concentric circles of four and eight feet in diameter inside.
  • HURRY – a command shouted by the skip or shooter to tell the sweepers to sweep.
  • KEEN ICE – when the ice is “fast” and less momentum is needed to get the rock to the desired target.
  • LEAD – the player who delivers the first two rocks of each end, alternating with the opponent’s lead.
  • NARROW – a rock delivered inside the intended line of delivery.
  • RAISE – a draw that raises, or moves, another rock into the house.
  • RINK – a curling team, which consists of four players: the skip, third (or vice skip), second and lead. All players are involved in every shot, with one shooting, two sweeping, and one calling strategy. Two rinks play against each other.
  • ROCKS – also known as stones, curling rocks are made of rare, dense, and polished granite quarried only on Ailsa Craig, an island off Scotland’s coast. Each rock weighs 42 pounds.
  • SCORING – only one rink scores per end, that being the rink with the rock closest to the center of the house. Points are awarded for each rock closer to the center than the opponent’s. The maximum score in an end is eight, which is very rare. Typically one to three points are scored per end. The team with the highest total at game’s end is the winner.
  • SECOND – the player who delivers the second two rocks of each end for his team or her, alternating with the opponent’s second.
  • SHEET – the 146-foot long ice playing area. The sheet’s design allows play in both directions.
  • SKIP – the player who holds the broom as a target for shots by the other three players. Skips are also the team strategists and must study, or read, the ice; anticipate the amount of curl, and then call the shots. Skips usually throw the last two rocks of each end.
  • SLIDER – worn over the shoe on the sliding foot in the delivery of a stone to allow for a long, smooth motion and follow through. Specially-made curling shoes have sliders built in.
  • STRAIGHT ICE – when the ice conditions do not allow the stones to curl much.
  • SWEEPING – players sweep to make the rock travel farther or to keep it from curling more than desired. Good sweepers can increase the distance a stone travels by as much as 15 feet. Sweeping creates a thin film of water under the rock, allowing it to glide easier. Two players are ready to sweep each shot.
  • “SWINGY” ICE – when ice conditions cause stones to curl greatly.
  • TAKEOUT – a type of shot that removes another rock from play.
  • TEE – the center of the house, also known as the button.
  • THIRD – the player who delivers the third two rocks of each end, alternating with the opponent’s third. Also known as the vice skip, this player holds the broom, or target, when the skip shoots, and also helps the skip with game strategy.
  • WIDE – a rock delivered outside the target line.

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