Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area that is segmented into four concentric circles. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends.
The curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly rotate as it slides, and the path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brushes who accompany the stone as it slides down the sheet, using the brushes to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. A great deal of strategy and teamwork go into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve. This gives curling its nickname of “Chess on ice”.
Curling is open to people of any skill level, gender, persons with disabilities, and (almost) any age. At many clubs youth programs often begin at ages 6-8 (some even younger) and seniors can continue to play well into their 80’s, or even 90’s. Many clubs offer lessons for those trying the sport for the first time. For persons with mobility issues, some clubs offer wheelchair curling programs; many clubs will offer “stick” curling to support people with a range of physical disabilities, including auditory or visual impairment. Curling is truly an inclusive sport for all ages and it’s easy to get started!
To start curling, your requirements are minimal! You’ll want to bring clean, soft-soled running shoes or sneakers, gloves or mitts for your hands, and possibly a helmet if you’re nervous about being on the ice. Try to avoid woollen mitts as it’s hard to hold a brush when wearing them. You’ll also want to wear stretchy pants (not jeans) and dress in layers because the air temperature inside the arena will be around 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Many clubs provide brushes, sliders and grippers for novice or recreational players so there is really no need to purchase equipment before you get started!