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Facts about curling

Curling is one of the strangest sports on the Winter Olympic Games roster. Curling is a sport that involves players sliding granite stones across a sheet of ice toward a target area. Two teams of four players each compete to try and get their stones to land as close to the center of the target (which is referred to as the “house”) as possible. Each team has eight stones and, like bocce, can use their stones to knock the opposing team’s stones away from the target. At the end of the game points are rewarded to players who got the most stones closest to the target. Whoever gets the most points wins.

The targets on "curling sheets" are called "houses."
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Curling is related to bowling, bocce, boules and shuffleboard although some people argue that it is actually older than all of those games. Some historians claim that it is one of the first games ever played and originated in Scotland thousands of years ago (although the first documented proof of the game being played in Scotland dates to 1541). Curling was an event at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 but it was not considered an “official” sport at the time. During the 1932 Winter Games it was held as a “demonstrative event” but it was not officially added to the Olympic Games roster until 1998. At present, curling—or “chess on ice” as it is sometimes called—is a televised sport at Winter Olympic Games.

Although curling is not a very popular sport it is an interesting game and there are numerous ice rinks that offer lessons about this game. Hence, if you or your child is interested in it there are probably local options to partake in such an event.

Below are a few facts about curling:

• In 1998, the Swiss men and the Canadian women won the first Olympic gold medals awarded for curling.

• The icy ground curling is played on is called a “curling sheet.” It must be 146-150 feet long and 14.5-16-5 feet wide.

• Curling has its own federation called the “World Curling Federation.”

• According to the World Curling Federation, the official dimensions for a proper curling stone are 38-44 pounds in weight, a maximum circumference of 36 inches, and a minimum height of 4.5 inches.

• “Curling brooms” are used to sweep the ice as the stone rolls down the sheet. Brushing the ice makes the stone move faster and travel for longer distances.

• Like bowlers, curlers wear special shoes.