Curling is a team sport which evolved in Scotland in the sixteenth century and is played on a rectangular sheet of ice, specially prepared for the purpose. Originally, it was played on frozen ponds, lochs and marshes!
Two teams of four players each contest in the curling competition. The aim of the sport is to slide finely polished granite stones down the ice towards a target, known as ‘house‘. Curling involves intricate strategies and precision. For this reason, the sport is often referred as the ‘chess on ice’.
Curling was in the Olympic schedule at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Games. During the 1932, 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, the sport was held as a demonstration event. After the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, curling became a regular event at the Winter Games with two curling events – the Men’s Tournament and the Women’s Tournament.
Combining strategy and a focus on teamwork, curling requires great skill for athletes to achieve success. As competitors sweep in front of their granite stone, a thin layer of moisture is developed between the stone and the ice – allowing the stone to move across a now lubricated surface.
There are four members on each team: Lead, Second, Third and Skip. Teams must attempt to stop their stone on or as close to the tee/central circle as possible to score maximum points. Allowing the stone to then travel faster, this sweeping also reduces the chance of any wayward movement of the stone to occur.
The curling competitions at the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held at the Ice Cube Curling Center, nicknamed ‘The Ice Cube’. In both the men’s and women’s competitions, ten nations will compete. These two events are scheduled for February 10 – February 21.
Great Britain’s team for the Winter Olympics is the strongest for decades, according to its medal hopefuls with realistic medal prospects in curling as well as in freestyle skiing, snowboarding, short track skating and skeleton.