Joe: Curling is a sport in which players slide large, round stones across an area of ice towards a circular target painted on the ice surface. Two teams of four players play against each other. Each team has eight stones. The teams take turns to slide one of their stones. They score points by getting the stones as near as possible to the centre of the target.
Each round is called an "end". An "end" is complete when both teams have played their eight stones. A game of curling consists of eight or ten "ends". Curling is sometimes called "chess on ice" because the game involves a lot of strategy, tactics and skill.
Curling is a quick game. The stone slides across the ice at great speed. Two players from each team, each holding a long-handled brush, work out the direction in which they think the stone is going to travel and sweep the ice before the stone slides over it. This changes the surface of the ice in front of the stone and influences the direction in which it travels.
Sweeping the ice at the right time is important. The sweepers have to know exactly when and how much to sweep. The player who has thrown the stone will shout out instructions to the sweepers as to how to prepare the stone’s path for best speed and direction.
The area of ice on which curling is played is called a "sheet". It's a long by narrow area usually measuring forty-six by five metres. Because of the shape of the curling sheet, a few games can be marked out and played at the same time on an ice rink. The target circles are three concentric rings of about 1.2 metres, 2.4 metres and 3.7 metres marked at the far end of the sheet.
A curling stone is like a big wheel of cheese made from granite. It can weigh between seventeen and twenty kilos; its diameter is around 25centimetres, and it’s about 13centimetres high. There is a handle through the middle. The best curling stones are made from special granite that comes from Scotland.
Curling was invented in Scotland in the sixteenth century. As Scottish people emigrated to Canada and New Zealand in the nineteenth century, they took the sport with them – the freezing winter conditions there were ideal for the game to flourish. Curling became an official sport at the Winter Olympics quite late in the day in 1998. Now curling is played in Japan, Korea, Scandinavia and America, as well as Europe, New Zealand and Canada.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed my talk on curling.