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Curling, XX Winter Olympic Games Torino 2006

Curling is similar to bowls or bocce, but played on ice with polished heavy stones rather than plastic balls. Curling has been an official sport in the Winter Olympics since the 1998 Winter Olympic Games with men's and women's tournaments (some sources also include the competition held in 1924 Winter Olympic Games as an official olympic tournament).

Curling is most popular in Canada, but is played in other countries which compete in the world championships. While Canadian tournaments offer cash prizes, there are no full-time professional curlers. Because accuracy, strategy, skill and experience are more valuable in curling than traditional sports virtues of speed, stamina and strength, most competitive curlers are older than in other sports.

EVENTS

Curling at the 2006 Winter Olympics will be held in the town of Pinerolo, Italy from February 13 to February 24. Pinerolo is about 50 kilometres from Torino. Pinerolo is the home of the important Study Centre and Museum of Prehistoric Art and of the National Cavalry Museum.

HISTORY

The game is generally believed to have been invented in 16th century Scotland, although two paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder depict Dutch peasants curling. Whatever the truth of the matter, outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the 16th and the 19th centuries when the climate was cold enough to ensure good ice conditions every winter and as a result the international governing body for curling, the World Curling Federation, is based in Perth, Scotland.

The origins of the word "curling" are not known. Curling probably does not take its name from the motion of the stones. In the early history of curling, the rocks were simply flat-bottomed river stones, and the thrower had little control over the rock relying more on luck than skill. The word was first used in print in 1630 in Perth, Scotland. One possible derivation is that it came from the old verb "curr" which describes a low rumble, a sound associated with the game (curling is often called the roaring game). Nevertheless, today a rock which deviates from a straight line is said to curl.

The Royal Montreal Curling Club, the first sporting club of any kind in North America, was established in 1807. The first curling club in the United States began in 1832, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the nineteenth century.

The first world curling championship in the sport was limited to men and was known as the "Scotch Cup" held in Falkirk and Edinburgh, Scotland, 1959. The first ever world title was won by the Canadian team from Regina, Saskatchewan skipped by Ernie Richardson. Actually, Curling is the provincial sport of Saskatchewan, home of one of the most famous curlers, the late Sandra Schmirler who led her team to the first ever Gold Medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics.

RULES OF CURLING

Curling is a team sport, played on an icy area 44.5 m (146-feet) long. The area includes the House - scoring area - 3.66 m (12 feet) in diameter, with concentric circles inside, with the center called Tee, the Hack, a rubber foothold from which curlers deliver the stone and a Hog Line, which is the limit before which the stone must be released. The object of the sport is to deliver 19.96 kilograms smooth granite stones with handles across the ice, closer to the centre of the House than the opposing team.

Each team consists of four players called the lead, the second, the third, and the skip, all of them involved in every shot, with the lead delivering, the second and third sweeping, and the skip deciding the strategy. The teams alternate in the delivery, and each team player will deliver 2 stones for a total 16 stones. The delivery puts the stone in motion towards the target and the two sweepers, a couple of steps ahead of the stone, with their brooms made of horse or hogs hair or a synthetic material, start sweeping in front of the stone, warming up the ice so the stone will go farther. The strategy may be to knock the opponent's stone out of the scoring area or to deliver the stone in the house. Scoring is calculated from the number of stones closest to the centre of the house. Only one team can score in an end, and each team has 73 minutes of playing time for 10 ends.

[the text above is derived from Wikipedia and is subject to the GNU licence]
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