Modern day Curling is a team sport played on sheets of ice, with 42 lb granite rocks and special brooms for creating friction on the ice. The origin of the sport itself remains a mystery, however it was the Scots who brought the sport to modern day. If you'd like to read about the history of Curling, I've found some interesting information on the Norfolk Curling Club website.
Curling can be played as a recreational sport, as well as competitively. You may have watched curling in the Winter Olympics, and depending on which part of the world you are from, this may have been your first introduction to the sport. Whether you're interested to learn to curl, or want to watch the sport every four years, understanding the curling game can make either more enjoyable.
A curling game is played with two teams, each team consisting of four members: Lead, Second, Vice and Skip. Some other sports are played in Innings, Quarters, or Periods. Curling is played in Ends. Competitive games have 10 ends, and recreational games commonly have 8 ends. Curling games can also go into extra ends.
Two teams play on a sheet of ice. On each end of the sheet, there is a house. The house is made of three concentric circles around the button. The objective is to have as many rocks closest to the button than your opponent to score points. For instance, if you have a rock in the 4-foot (diameter) circle and a rock in the 12 -foot circle, while your opponent has a rock in the 8-foot circle, you score one point since your opponents rock is closer to the button than your second rock.
The team Skips are the strategists and the most experienced curlers on the team. The Vice, Second, and Lead deliver the shots indicated by the Skip, as well as sweep the delivered stones when their turn to deliver has ended. The Vice takes the house while the Skip delivers their stones in each end.
The order of team play is determined with a coin toss between the team Leads. The winner of the toss decides whether their team will go first or "take the hammer" which means their team will go second and therefore have the last shot of the end. Taking the hammer is usually the preferred choice. Since curling is a game of etiquette, it is traditional for all players to shake hands before the first rock is thrown and offer "Good Curling" to the other players. Similarly, when a game is over, players shake hands again and offer "Good Curling".
A co-worker pointed out this audio track by Jonathan Coulton. (Thank you Chiyo!) It appeared on Jonathan Coulton's blog in Feb 2006, around Winter Olymic time. Get inspired for 2010 and check it out.
Curl by Jonathan Coulton.