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However, there is one in particular that seems to capture the hearts and minds of many every time: curling.
Whether it’s the seemingly manic brushing performed in front of the stone, or the incredible skill required to precisely slide stones into precise positions from so far away, curling is becoming a staple on TV.
The game earned the nickname, The roaring gamethe roar that comes from the granite stone as it moves across the ice.
When did curling start?
Although its exact origins cannot be traced precisely, curling is a sport believed to have originated in the 16th century.
Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel’s paintings appear to depict an activity similar to curling being played on frozen ponds.
In 1540 John McQuhin – a solicitor in Paisley, Scotland – appeared to produce the first written evidence of curling.
Written in Latin, McQuhin recorded in his book a challenge between John Sclater, a monk from Paisley Abbey, and Gavin Hamilton, a representative of the abbot. He said Sclater threw a rock down the ice three times and said he was ready for the agreed-upon contest.
It became popular around the world when emigrating Scots introduced curling to countries with similar climates.
The first official rules for curling were drafted in Scotland and adopted by the Grand Caledonian Curling Club – which became the sport’s governing body – in 1838.
The club was renamed the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1843 after Queen Victoria took a liking to curling after a demonstration on the ballroom floor of Scone Palace.
Although international curling matches have been recorded since the 19th century, the first official international matches took place at the first Winter Olympics in 1924, in Chamonix, France. Great Britain beat Sweden and France in what was retroactively accepted as curling’s Olympic debut.
Curling was also a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Games and then later in 1988 and 1992. This designation meant that the sport was not played for medal competition.
It was not until 1992 that the International Olympic Committee granted medal status to both men’s and women’s curling. It was introduced at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan and became a regular inclusion.
What do you need to play curling?
The curling stones are made from a special type of granite and weigh nearly 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds).
Each curler has their own brush and a specific type of shoe specialized for the sport.
In each pair of shoes, one sole grips the ice, while the other is more slippery – called a slider – allowing players to slide with the stone as they play it.
The brush is used by players to sweep past the stone to warm its path, allowing it to move farther if desired.
Sweeping can also reduce the curvature of a stone and help it stay on its path to the target.
What is the curling format?
Curling is a team sport – male, female or mixed – practiced on ice.
Two teams take turns sliding the granite stones across a 150-foot-long, 15-foot-7-inch-wide patch of ice toward a target known as the house.
Traditional curling teams consist of four players, with mixed teams comprising two men and two women or one man and one woman if it is mixed doubles.
Each team has a captain (a captain) and a vice-captain. The captain leads the team and stands at the other end of the ice near the house.
In team curling, each player slides two stones in a row, alternating with an opponent, in each round, which is called an end.
Each player will be assigned a position – leader, second, third or fourth. The point guard will deliver the first two stones, followed by the second, then the third and finally the fourth.
In mixed doubles, teams use five stones each. Each round starts with a pre-placed stone so that it is possible to score six points in each round. One player plays the first and fifth stones, the other plays the middle three.
How to score points?
On each side of the playing surface, there is a series of target-like rings — the house. This helps players determine which stones are closest to the center.
Once an innings is over, a team scores a point for each of its stones in or touching the house that are closer to the center than any of the opposing team’s stones.
Only one team is able to score in an innings. If neither team’s stones touch the house, no runs are scored – this is called a scoreless inning.
When dragging the stones, each player must release them before a certain line – called the hog line – for them to be in play.
A curling game is played over ten ends and the team with the most points wins.
Although teams can concede before the end of ten ends, the average curling championship game can last up to three hours.
With that, kick back, sit back, relax and watch Olympic curling – which is set to kick off in Beijing on Feb. 2 and end Feb. 20 – as a new expert found from The roaring game.
Curling: what is it? How do you play it?
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