Today we want to look at what is definitely the slowest event at the Winter Olympics but will still pull a huge crowd of excited sports fans and create intense finishes! Curling has a rich history dating back long before many of the other events on show in PyeongChang but is one of the least watched sports and the only major headline from the last year was when American Airlines refused to accept a Curling Brush as sporting equipment and charged a professional athlete an excessive fee to take the Brush with her!
What are the rules?
In Curling at this level it is a very very rare event to see a rule being broken, these rules include, touching the stones, taking your turn out of order and sweeping incorrectly. Curling teams have 4 players in each team and will take it in turns to throw their stones down the ice, when not throwing the other players will sweep or shout advice on when to sweep.
The more important “rules” to know about is the format that the curling events follow and how to win. Curling is the only event to happen everyday at the games and every team will play each other in a league format before reaching a semi final and a final to determine the overall standings. This year we will witness the first mixed team event in Curling which will be a shorter format but see men and women compete on the same team.
To win at Curling you simply need to score more points in total than your opponent, you will receive points for each stone that is closer to the middle of the target area than your opponents. This means a team can win a maximum 8 points per end! And with 10 ends per game a team could win 80-0 although this is very unlikely.
Words to listen out for
In Curling there are many different terms used that you may not hear outside of the sport, for example they have 5 different terms for ice! We will go through a few of them now to help you out!
Stone/Rock – Earlier I used the word Stone and some of you will have known what I meant others not, the Stone is the object which is thrown or shot down the ice. Commentators will use words such as Hammer, which refers to the last rock thrown or a Biter, which is a rock that is just touching the scoring zone. If a team breaks one of the rules a stone can become Burned when it is removed from play.
Brush – Brush is what the team uses to help with the speed of the rock, when the rock is thrown two players will sweep in front of the rock to adjust the speed it is travelling at, it may look like two frantic cleaners but this role is key to the teams throw!
End – A game consists of 10 ends, except the mixed event, which will be 8. An end is the Curling equivalent of an Innings in Baseball or Cricket. Each team will throw all their rocks down the ice and then they will collect them up and start again, this is an end. If there is a tie break an extra end will be played.
Who to look out for?
If we can trust the history books then there is only one team worth following in this event. Canada has dominated this sport and has picked up medals in the last 5 Olympics! The Men’s team will be looking to win 4 gold medals in a row after 2 silvers in the previous Olympics. The Women’s team will be will be looking to recreate last years gold but have picked up 2 golds, 1 silver and 2 bronze over the last 5 Olympics.
Outside of Canada the men’s events have produced medalists from all over the world and anybody has the potential to win a medal with Sweden and Great Britain medaling last year. The women’s event’s are just not as wide open with Sweden picking up Silver last year after back to back Gold Medals. Great Britian, China and Switzerland will be looking to get onto the podium this year.
Written by Imran Ali