What is curling?
There are four people on a curling team. They rotate their tasks during the game so that each member of the team will throw two rocks, and sweep some. The aim of the game is to throw rocks at a target so that your rocks are closer to the target than your opponent’s rocks. Each rock of yours that is better than your opponent’s give you a point.
There is a lot of strategy involved. Teams that throw first may decide to throw a protective guard first, followed by a stone behind that guard so that the team that throws later finds it harder to clear the stones. Depending on the ice (which differs from place to place), the ability of your team and the situation your strategy will vary drastically. Often strategy of a shot may even change during the execution of the shot (Pro-side miss)
Why do you sweep?
Sweeping warms up the ice. As the ice warms there is less friction, therefore the stone curls less (it goes straighter) and also it slows down less (it goes further). Depending on where you warm up the ice and in what direction experienced sweepers can even use this to either promote the curl of the rock or reduce it. Sweeping by itself cannot win you a game of curling but good sweepers can increase your margin of error a little, which will ultimately result in more points won.
Is curling a good work-out?
Yes! In order to be a good curler you have to have a lot of core strength and stability to generate enough momentum and be controlled on the ice. To that end we have weekly work-out sessions in PWG. In addition sweeping (if done properly) will stregthen your stamina as a tournament lasts 3 days and one plays roughly five two hour games.
What is broom-stacking?
After a game of curling it is customary to sit together at a table and enjoy food and each other’s company. One chats about not just curling but life in general and hangs out. This is an integral part of any curling match and is one of the things that makes curling different from other sports.
… and here a little Canadian summary: