Curling Oversimplified

The basics on how to play this icy sport

Age is not the issue in curling that it is in most sports, says six-year curling veteran Sandra Takata. 'If you can't bend or crouch, you can use a stick to toss the rocks. There is even wheelchair curling these days.'

Photo by Sheena Patrick, Sheena Patrick

Age is not the issue in curling that it is in most sports, says six-year curling veteran Sandra Takata. "If you can't bend or crouch, you can use a stick to toss the rocks. There is even wheelchair curling these days."

Age is not the issue in curling that it is in most sports, says six-year curling veteran Sandra Takata. 'If you can't bend or crouch, you can use a stick to toss the rocks. There is even wheelchair curling these days.'

Photo by Sheena Patrick

Age is not the issue in curling that it is in most sports, says six-year curling veteran Sandra Takata. "If you can't bend or crouch, you can use a stick to toss the rocks. There is even wheelchair curling these days."

Says Curler Matthew Jones: 'It can be embarrassing if you forget to put the slider on your shoe before leaving the hack [starting block] -- you immediately come to a complete stop.'

Photo by Sheena Patrick

Says Curler Matthew Jones: "It can be embarrassing if you forget to put the slider on your shoe before leaving the hack [starting block] -- you immediately come to a complete stop."

A tactician’s dream, curling is simple to play, but has strategies and physics that make it tough to master. The basic procedure:

• Two teams of four compete, each throwing eight round, 44-pound granite “rocks” from one end of the ice to the other, aiming for a “house”—a circle marked on the ice.

• The skip, the team strategist, stands at the “house” end of the ice and places his “broom” to establish where the second player of the team, the “lead,” should try to deliver the first rock from the opposite end of the ice.

• The lead slides out of a “hack,” similar to a starting block in track, releasing the rock before he reaches the “near” hog line.

• The other two players on the team, the “second” and “vice,” act as sweepers at the skip’s direction, sliding down the ice along with the rock.

• The rock must slide past the “far” hog line and into the house—and stay there through subsequent rocks from both teams—to score a point.

• After the leads on each team alternately deliver the first two rocks, the seconds do the same (with the lead becoming the second sweeper), then the vices, and finally the skips with the thirds moving to the house to act as strategists.

• The score is tallied at the conclusion of each “end” of play, with one game usually consisting of eight or 10 ends.

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