Curling Information

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dot"The competitiveness and exercise during curling makes for a great two hours," says curler Steve Quinn.

Are you in the house or out of the house? If you're curling, being IN the house is definitely a good thing!

dotCurling is a game of strategy played on an ice surface. It is a team sport. Players slide "rocks" down a sheet of ice and try to get their rocks in the "house." As the rock slides along, team members use brooms to sweep in front of the rock to help it along if it appears to be going too slow.

dotCURLING FACT: The name curling comes from the old English verb "to curr," which means to growl.

dotCurling is a sport usually played indoors in an arena. Some curling rinks are stand-alone facilities. Others share arenas with hockey rinks. Usually, the area where you curl is cold.

Most curlers belong to curling clubs and join teams. The environment is social, friendly and competitive at the same time.

dotCURLING FACT: A curling team consists of four players: lead, second, third and skip. The skip is the team captain.

dotAccording to Rick Patzke with U.S.A. Curling, there are about 15,000 curlers in the U.S., and about 1.5 million worldwide. Canada probably has the most, with somewhere around 1.2 million curlers.

The basic idea of curling is to slide your rocks as close to the center of the house as possible. It's kind of like aiming for a bull's-eye. The goal is to end up with more of your rocks closer to the center of the house (the button) than the other team's rocks.

dotCURLING FACT: The rocks are made from special granite quarried in Scotland and other parts of the world, and weigh a standard 42 pounds.

dotCurling is a game steeped in tradition. There have been a few changes made in recent years, both in the way the game is played and in the equipment.

At one time, competitive curling was a game of "takeout." That means the lead would slide a rock into the house, and the opposing player would then knock the rock out. But the rules were changed about eight years ago.

"Each team's two lead rocks, if delivered in a guard position, must not be removed by a lead," says curler Carla Lynch. "This allows a lead to place two guards, and then the second can put a rock behind the guard. The second can remove the guards, if desired."

dotAnother big change in recent times was the change from brooms to brushes. "About 35 years ago, everyone used corn brooms," says Lynch. "They left debris on the ice and were very difficult to sweep with effectively.

"Hog hair and nylon bristled brushes replaced brooms and were used for many years. They could also leave debris on the ice as the brush heads wore out and shed bristles, but they were much easier to use and many more people were very effective with them.

"About five years ago, a fabric-covered pad was introduced. They leave no debris on the ice. The pad is on the end of the handle just like the brush head. At about the same time, angled brush and pad heads were introduced to make sweeping more effective."

dotCURLING FACT: A typical game of curling lasts about two hours.

dotCompared to a lot of other sports, curling is relatively inexpensive. Joining a curling club will cost you anywhere between $100 and $400 a year. Then all you really need is a good pair of clean, rubber-soled shoes. Good runners are fine. Clubs supply the rocks and usually have brooms you can use.

"Once you've decided you're hooked, a new broom costs about $50," says curler Doug Anderson. "Special curling shoes can also be bought for about $100. Both brooms and shoes last several years. Another piece of equipment is a slider [usually made of Teflon] which goes over one foot to provide a graceful motion when delivering the rock."

dotCURLING FACT: It is widely believed that curling originated in Scotland sometime in the 16th century. Scottish immigrants later made the game popular in Canada. The sport is now popular around the world.

dotYou don't really need any special skills to curl. But you should be reasonably fit. You generally need good knees and a good back. Furious sweeping as the rock slides down the ice can easily leave you out of breath. The 42-pound rock isn't picked up, so no heavy lifting is required.

dotPhysically challenged people can curl, depending on the challenge. A person in a wheelchair would likely not be able to curl. For people with back or knee problems who have difficulty crouching down, there is a relatively new stick-like device available. People use the stick "in the hack" (the area where the rock is delivered down the ice).

Lynch has even curled with a person who couldn't see! "I have curled with a man who is legally blind. He played lead. The second would look to see where the skip held his broom [the target] and would place his broom near enough to the blind curler so he could see its position relative to the near circles."

dotCURLING FACT: The length of the sheet from backboard to backboard is 146 feet. The width of the sheet from sideline to sideline is 14'2".

dotCurling is an amateur sport. There are no professional curlers. The only employment possible would be in areas associated with curling.

You could, of course, build your own curling club. On a much smaller scale, you could work at a curling club, perhaps maintaining the ice. You could also open up or work in a retail shop selling curling equipment.

dotCURLING FACT: The use of brooms and brushes came about because curling was first played outdoors on frozen rivers and lakes. When a player delivered a stone, his teammates cleared the snow from its path by sweeping.

dotCurling is a safe sport. Serious injuries are rare. But walking on ice has its dangers, and injuries do occur. The most dangerous situation is when someone slips and hits their head on the ice.

"Be careful and don't make any sudden moves," says curler Craig Callum. "You are on a slippery sheet of ice and it hurts when you fall on it. Also, falling on a rock hurts. Falling on a broom hurts. In my four years, I have seen a broken ankle, a cracked rib, and several head injuries involving bleeding."

Callum also points out the importance of a proper warm-up. "The stretching is very important. The ice area is kept in the low-to-mid 30s, I think, and muscles tighten up easier in the cold. In the first game of my second year, I rushed my warm-up and pulled a leg muscle, which took the rest of the season to get over."

Getting Started

dotThe best way to get started curling is to go to a local club and express interest. Most clubs welcome beginners. Wear loose clothing, a clean pair of runners, and be prepared to learn how to play the game. Usually, this will take less than two hours.

dotCURLING FACT: Bonspiel is a curling term for competition.

dotIn curling, practice likely won't make you perfect, but it will make you better at the game. Once you've joined a club, try and play with experienced players as much as possible. This is probably the best way to learn. Many clubs also offer instructional programs.

"With an hour or two of group lecture, demonstration, and instruction, one can play a game," says Lynch. "Most new curlers start in a league with just this much instruction. During the game, the new player's teammates teach him or remind him of rules and make suggestions on how to improve his delivery. New curlers to our club are given a booklet describing the game, telling rules and etiquette, and informing them of our club's rules."


United States Curling Association
National Office
1100 CenterPoint Dr.
P.O. Box 866
Stevens Point , WI   54481
Toll-free :  888-CURLERS
E-mail :

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