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A Beginner’s Guide to Curling

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If you are going to start participating in the oh so fun sport of curling, make sure you don’t let the skip take over for the lead and throw a burning rock for a blank end before you all take part in some broomstacking.

If you didn’t understand any of that, don’t worry, KwikRink Synthetic Ice can help you with anything you need to know about setting up your own curling lanes or other custom ice rinks. You can also read on and learn a little bit more about curling right here.

That’s Just for Winter Sports Countries, Right?

Curling’s rising popularity among winter sports may make it seem like it’s something new. However, it is one of the oldest team sports around, with its origins reaching back to 16th century Scotland.

Curling was part of the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix. It didn’t become an official medal sport until 1998 at the Nagano Winter Games. Most of the years in between, it was present as a demonstration sport only at the Olympics.

Curling needed to have 30 member countries to become a full medal event in 1998. Twenty years later, it has 60 member countries, with more expected. Just like the Jamaican bobsled team, they are not all coming from frigid, snow-covered lands.

Sweden and Canada have dominated the sport at the Men’s World Championships in the recent past. Switzerland has reigned supreme in the Women’s World Championships taking the top spot five times in the last ten years.

What a Gold Medal can do for a Sport

Some of the growing popularity in curling in the US can be attributed to John Shuster and the US Men’s Curling team when they took the gold at the 2018 Olympics at PyeongChang.

Shuster had won a bronze medal in curling at the 2006 Olympics in Turin. The next two Olympics were not as successful, and 2018 was not starting well.

They had lost four out of their first six matches, and things looked bleak. Bleak until the amazing happened.

With the last throw, and by just millimeters, the US Men’s Team defeated the reigning, 3-time, Olympic gold-medal-winning, Canadian team. It kept the US Men’s Team in the competition, and they went on to win that gold medal in 2018.

Curling has always been one of the most popular sports at the Winter Olympics. However, its popularity is on the rise in the US, and around the globe.

Throw a Burning Rock for a Blank End – What???

Now to explain that opening sentence. The skip is the team captain and takes the last two turns for the team. The first two turns belong to the lead. Each turn consists of sliding, referred to as throwing, the 40-44 pound stone down the ice towards a target.

A burning rock is an infraction which occurs if a player touches the stone while it is moving down the ice. An end is like an inning in baseball and is complete when all four team members have thrown two rocks each.

If no points are scored, it is referred to as a blank end. And the broomstacking, we’ll get to that a bit later.

A few more curling definitions are as follows:

  • House – the target at the end of the curling lane
  • Button – the very center of the house
  • Second – team member throwing the 3rd and 4th stones
  • Third – team member throwing the 5th and 6th stones
  • Stone – 40-44 pound polished granite rock pushed down the ice
  • Tee — the lines that cross at the very center of the house

For more terminology, check out the Curling for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

We’re Almost to the Broomstacking

The object of curling is for your stones to be closest to the tee. After both sides throw eight stones each, only the team whose stone is closest to the center of the button can score.

The team with their stone closest to the tee scores one point for every stone that is closer to the center of the house than their opponent’s.

Score points only for those stones that stop in the house. The team with the most points after 8-12 ends wins.

Broomstacking, It’s All About the Broomstacking

Another aspect of curling that is causing its rise in popularity is the social aspect of the sport.  Curling clubs around the US are known for their welcoming community and casually outrageous attire.

After touring curling clubs around the US, John Shuster himself stated:  “it’s a sport built on friendship, camaraderie, and sportsmanship and all the best things in people.”

So what is this broomstacking thing already? Since a match can consist of 8-12 ends and each end consists of throwing a total of 16 stones between the two teams, these matches can get a bit lengthy.

Initially, curlers would take a break in the middle of a match, stack their brooms on the ice and head inside for a shot of scotch. Most broomstacking has now been relegated to the end of the match, but it is still the accepted tradition. That tradition carries through to even the national and international levels of competition.

Socializing does not have to wait until there is time for drinks, though. There is still plenty of time between throws for discussing strategy or telling tales, which makes curling such an enjoyable sport.

If You Don’t Want a Blank End

Winter clime or desert heat, indoors or outdoors, with or without the scotch, curling is a growing sport. KwikRink Synthetic Ice can design a custom curling lane set up to meet your needs, and you can soon be chatting it up with the skip as to whether that was a burning rock, or not. Make sure you don’t end up with a blank end.

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