Curling for dummies

A guide to curling and its terminology ahead of next week’s Continental Cup of Curling at the Langley Events Centre

Next week,  Langley will be host to one of the most prestigious curling competitions in the world.

Second only to the Olympics, the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup is being played Jan. 12-15 at the Langley Events Centre. Some of the world’s top curlers, including five international Olympic teams, will take part.

Curling fans and players across the Lower Mainland are shaking in their “gripper” and “slider” equipped shoes with anticipation for when the competition arrives.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a “bonspiel” bum to find the excitement in curling.

So for those of us Langleyites who don’t know very much about the sport, it’s about time we “hurry hard” and get up to date on all the curling rules and lingo.

Curling terminology

The first step to becoming a curling whiz is to know the insider’s language.

• Bonspiel: A curling tournament.

• Cashspiel: A curling tournament for money.

• End: The division in a game, equivalent to a period in hockey or an inning in baseball. There are eight to 10 ends in a game.

• Blank end: An end where no points are scored.

• Eight-ender: A perfect end where every one of the team’s stones scores a point.

• House/ rings: The set of coloured rings at each end of the sheet of ice. The outside ring is the 12-foot, followed by the 8-foot, the 4-foot and the “button” in the centre.

• Rink: The name for a curling team and/or a curling centre.

Sheet: The ice rink the curling game is played on.

• Rock/ stone: The granite playing piece used in curling. An average rock weighs 40 pounds.

• Burning a rock: A violation when a player touches a stone moving down the ice.

• Delivery: Throwing a stone from one end of the sheet of ice to the other.

• Hammer: The last rock of the end.

• Hack: device used to push off from when throwing the rock.

• Tee Line: The line that runs through the middle of the house.

• Weight: The amount of power used when throwing a rock.

• Gripper: The sole on a curling shoe to grip the ice.

• Slider: the sole of curling shoes to help with sliding across the ice.

• Hurry Hard: A command for the sweepers to start sweeping.

Curling roster

The next step to mastering the game of curling is to know the players. There are four players on a curling team, the lead, the second, the third and the skip.

The lead throws the first and second rock in each end, and sweeps the remaining six.

The second throws the third and fourth rocks and sweeps during the first, second, and last four plays.

The third (also known as mate or vice) throws the fifth and sixth stones which sets up the final shots for the skip. This player also posts the score when each end is finished.

The skip is the team captain and throws the last two stones of an end. The skip determines the strategy used for each end and conducts the other players of the team by telling them where to throw and when to sweep.

Curling rules

The last step on the quest to curl is to understand how the game is played.

In it’s basic form a curling game consists of two teams of four players throwing heavy granite stones down the ice with the goal of delivering them as close to the centre of the “bull’s eye” (house) as possible.

Each player on the team throws two stones in each end, for a total of eight stones thrown. Teammates take their turns after the player on the opposite team with the same position does their throw.

When a rock is thrown down the ice it will curl either to the left or the right, depending on the conditions of the sheet and the handle (in turn or out turn) used when it is thrown.

The skip stands at one end of the sheet and directs players where they should throw their stones.

After both teams have thrown their eight rocks, the score is calculated by the final positions of the stone. The team with the rock or rocks closest to the centre of the house scores.