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The GFORCE Guide to… Curling

Added 04 Dec 2019 by GFORCE

Continuing with our winter themed niche sports blog, in our latest ‘GFORCE Guide to’ we learn all about the Olympic sport of Curling!

Curling is a team sport played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice. Yes, you heard it right – a sheet of ice!

And here’s an interesting fact, it’s one of the world’s oldest team sports, originating in the 16th century in Scotland, where games were played during winter on frozen ponds and lochs. The earliest-known curling stones came from the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth and date from way back in 1511. Who knew?!

So, what does the sport involve? Each team takes it in turns to slide the heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones, with every player throwing two. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends.

The player can induce a curved path, described as curl, by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides. The path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms, who accompany it as it slides down the sheet and sweep the ice in front of the stone. ‘Sweeping a rock’ decreases the friction, which makes the stone travel a straighter path (with less ‘curl’) and a longer distance.

But it’s really important to note that a great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine the degree to which the stone will achieve the desired result. This gives curling its nickname of ‘chess on ice’. You definitely need brains as well as brawn!

When it comes to the development of the sport, the first curling clubs appeared in Scotland, with the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, formed in 1838, being responsible for formulating the first official rules of the sport. Things progressed throughout the 20th-century with key developments including the standardisation of the stone, the development of the slide delivery, and the use of indoor, refrigerated ice facilities.

In addition, men’s curling was included in the Olympic programme in 1924 at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix but was then dropped, and later re-introduced as a demonstration sport in 1932 in Lake Placid. It was in Nagano in 1998 that it officially joined the Olympic programme, with both men’s and women’s competitions.

Curling certainly has a long and distinguished history so why not consider being part of its future? To find out more information, please visit www.britishcurling.org.uk.

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