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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Olympics: Five things to know about curling

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Sweeping. Broomstacking. The hog line.
No, we’re not talking about tidying up a pig pen. These are terms from curling, an ancient winter sport at the Vancouver Olympics.

Here are five things to know about curling:
— The sport often is compared to shuffleboard on ice. The Olympians play 10 ends, or innings (yes, like baseball), and the team with the most points at the end wins.
— After a 42-pound granite stone is sent sliding down the ice, two players use sweeping motions to control it — to make it go faster or slower, or to change its direction, or “curl.” The goal is to get the stone as close as possible to the center of a series of concentric circles.
— Don’t even think about knocking the curlers for not being athletes. Although curlers like to have fun, counting the social aspect of the sport as a big part of the experience they love, curlers around the world have taken their fitness to a new level in preparation for these games. They have personal trainers, high-intensity training camps, sports psychologists and more. The teams that don’t work out hard off the ice are the ones that fall behind everybody else.
— Behave yourself. This sport, dating to 15th-century Scotland, prides itself on a tradition of sportsmanship and good manners. The Chinese women didn’t talk to the media after Sunday’s practice in order to keep their focus, and it caused an uproar of sorts. On Monday, when they passed the media, they smiled and said “hi.”
— The terminology is foreign to say the least. There’s broomstacking, the post-match ritual of heading to the lounge with the opponent for a friendly drink. (Traditionally, the winners buy the beers.) The “button” is the inner-most circle within the “house” — the area the stone must cross into to be in play.
And don’t forget the “hog line.” That’s a line that extends down the sheet of ice. All the way to the house.