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WORLD SPORT

Curling

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Curling has been an Olympic sport since 1924.

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Curling
Winter Olympics
Torino

TORINO, Italy (CNN) -- Curling originated on the frozen lochs of Scotland in the 16th century.

In those days the stones were rocks taken from the bottom of rivers where the flow of water had given them a smooth surface, which made them ideal for skimming across the frozen loch. Handles were fitted to the stones at some point in the next century, giving rise to the release method more familiar today.

How it is done

Each curling team is made up of four members, who each have two turns sending a 19 kilogram stone from one end of the area of play to the other end, aiming for it to come to rest within two concentric circles.

When a stone is in motion, two other team members sweep in front of its path to control its speed and direction. The team with the stone or stones closest to the center of the concentric circles after each member has thrown two stones is the winner of that end. A game consists of 10 ends.

Players always throw in the same order, according to their position in the team: lead, second, third -- known as vice-skip -- and skip, the team strategist. Ten teams make up the Olympic competition.

What makes it hard

The curling stone must be released before a certain point on the ice, many meters away from the target. This makes weighting and trajectory difficult to control.

Any stone may be knocked out of the target area unless it is positioned in front of the circles in the first two ends, in which case it may not be touched. This can mean a perfect throw is soon displaced and left worthless, or that the easiest trajectory to the target is blocked.

Decoding the Jargon

You may hear some unfamiliar terms in the expert commentary of the skeleton at the Games. Here is what some of them mean:

Hog: The line on the playing area before which a player must have released the stone when throwing.

House: The target area of two concentric circles in which a stone must finish to count in the end.

Button: The area at the center of the concentric circles, also known as the tee.

Guard zone: The name of the zone in which stones are protected from being dislodged in the first two ends of any game. The vice-skip and skip are allowed to move stones in the guard zone, as they throw in the third and fourth ends respectively.

Which means you can sound like an expert by saying: "Did she just go over the hog? I'd like to see a replay of that."

Did you know?

The oldest curling stones ever found were recovered in the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth. They date back to 1511.

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