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curlingThrowing a polished granite rock at a target on the ice! It's just the beginning of the technique behind a good curling match or in fierce competition during Olympic curling matches.

The basic rules of the game? They couldn't be simpler.

• A flat, heavy, polished granite stone is glided across the ice to a specific target. Teams of four are comprised of the thrower, who directs the stone to give it the proper amount of spin down the ice.

• The two sweepers use brooms to sweep in front of the stone to increase its speed or lessen its curl.

• The fourth team member, the skip, directs the other players and usually carries a timer to check how fast or slow the stone is moving.

The object of the game? Get your teams stones closer to the target than the other team's stones. And, while it may sound like a straightforward game of luck, it often takes intricate teamwork, timing, strategy, and more than a layman's knowledge of curling physics. Just try to to pinpoint a landing spot for a granite stone -- traveling at high speed down a slick alley of smooth ice -- to really get a true appreciation for the game.

Curling then and now

medieval curling, Pieter Bruegel
Detail from Winter Landscape by
Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel showing
a 16th century curling match.

According to the historical record, curling originated in Scotland in the 16th century when the community sport was played with flat river stones that glided across frozen lakes and ponds.

From there it probably spread to Northern Europe and the Netherlands where it was famously depicted in Winter Landscape by Dutch artists Pietr Bruegel.

Since then, the sport has continued to grow in popularity worldwide, and especially in Canada where today curling matches are arguably the most competitive -- and most watched -- with an estimated 1 in 3 Canadians tuning into TSN each winter to watch their favorite matches (and more so during the Winter Olympics.)

Gone are the days when curling was considered only a "gentleman's game". Women curlers have also taken over the ice, most prominently with the introduction of the first women's international curling championship in 1979. By 2008, the sport struck a blow for true equality of the sexes with the introduction of mixed doubles, comprised of two players - one male and one female.

Just up ahead, learn more about romancing the stone with additional info on the game's origins, the modern rules of play, tactics, gear and equipment, and little known facts about the sport of curling....

More about curling around the Web:


Curling Basics - The complete guide to curling terms from sweeper and back house weight to the Free Guard Zone Rule with pictures and clever animations that give clues to exactly how curling buzzwords got that way..

Curling's Premiere Directory - Just what it says with the international curling world displayed on a single Web page for easy browsing, and including links to curling associations, federations, clubs, stats and related information worldwide.

International Curling Information Network Group - With everything you ever wanted to know including rules and regulations, curling equipment, curling history, humor, and lots more including an international directory of links to clubs and federations..

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