Curling 101

The Winter Olympics’ most befuddling event, explained

By Alexandria Bordas February 3, 2014 Published in the February 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

There are exactly two sports you play with a broom. One is Quidditch. The other is curling. Both have fantastical rules that boggle the mind. Before we all hunker down for some entertaining (if confusing) curling action beamed from Sochi this month, we asked Bruce Irvin, president of the Evergreen Curling Club in Beaverton, for a color-coded explanation of the “Bonspiel,” er, curling tournament:

The Basics

Players slide a “rock” across ice toward a target. There are 10 “ends” (like innings). Each team throws eight rocks—two per player—per end.

Skip: The captain of the team, who throws the final stones of each end and yells at the..

Sweepers: Yes, they sweep with brooms on either side of the stone to speed up its slide, or create surface friction to slow it down. 

Hack: The device used to stabilize the player who is throwing the stone, much like a starting block in track and field 

“Hurry!”: Shouted by the skip, signaling the team to start sweeping quickly 

“Hurry Hard!”: Shouted by the skip, signaling the team to start sweeping very quickly

The Field

Hog line: The line the stone must cross to be in play

The House: The ringed target on the ice

Button: The bull’s-eye, worth five points

Hammer: The final rock in an end. The team throwing the last rock “has the hammer.”

Pro Tips

Broomstacking: Curling tradition of stacking brooms in the center of the rink and leaving to grab an alcoholic beverage.

Yoga helps with balance and stance—essential in elite curling.

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