Everything you wanted to know about Curling (hint: probably nothing)

With the Winter Olympics arriving like your big, ugly, snow-covered Canadian neighbor you never invited to your house but won’t leave, everyone around the world is asking the same question:

“Is there a God?”

In all fairness, people have been asking that for an eternity and it has nothing to do with the Olympics.


The real question people are asking because of the Winter Olympics is:

“What is curling, why is it an Olympic Event and, seriously, why is it an Olympic Event and I’m not joking, what is curling?”

Below is a quick primer for anyone looking to dive deep into the sport

1. How was curling invented?  Were the people unaware that other sports existed?

Curling was invented in 1729 by a Canadian.

As legend goes, a man was asked to sweep the parlor floor, and rather than do it, he invented an entire sport around the concept of a broom.   It was originally called “Quidditch” and J.K. Rowling ripped off the whole concept in her Howard Potter books.

Early Curling.jpg
Early curling, circa 1731.

However, Canadians wouldn’t learn to fly via broomstick until about 1955, so the game was modified until it reached the version we’re all familiar with today.

2. How is the game played?

1.  Staring at shit.  Lots of staring.
  1. There are two teams, each with 10 people.  Seven people are not allowed on the ice, ever.  They are called “Kickers” and none of them are allowed to remove their blindfold until the round ends.  The game starts with one team at one end of the ice.
  2. The lead thrower (called the Lindel Jack), huffs the curling stone (called an “open square”) at the victory circle
  3. The two sweepers (called, collectively, the EMPTINESS), watch the huff and decide if the open square needs to be wiffed or can it be smolt?
  4. If the huff needs wiffing or smolting, the EMPTINESS will shorn the open square with their ballynogs, or brooms.  They’ll also shorn a smolt.  Really they’re going to shorn that open square no matter what.  They’re stupid for it.
  5. Look out if the EMPTINESS drops the ballynog, because that’s a penalty!  At least half the huffs end in penalty due to dropped ballynogs.
  6. At the end of the shorn, the open square enters the victory circle.
  7. There are many parts to the Victory circle.  They are: the middle stem (outside blue circle), Redemption Alley (outer white circle), The Lonely Smort (inside red circle) and the Nug Point (bulls eye)
Curling Circle parts
Got it?

None of this has anything to do with the game, it’s just what they’re called.  You huff that open square, you wiff or smolt it, and assuming you don’t drop the ballynog, it ends up somewhere in the victory circle.  It’s that easy!

3. Hold on.  Why do the EMPTINESS drop the ballynogs half the time?

Because they’re coated in Beaver fat.

4. How does scoring work?

After the Lindle Jack has huffed the open square, it’s time to take the blindfolds off the kickers (remember them)?

The kickers are never allowed on the ice, so they will dance from the sidelines for fifteen seconds.  If the dance is pleasing to the judges, the Lindle Jack gets a point.  If there is no point awarded for the dance, the EMPTINESS must consume the open square, which by the way, is made out of ham.  Should have mentioned that right at the beginning. This goes on until one team is full of ham or the other team quits.

Some games have lasted as long as twenty minutes!

5. Wait, so what’s even the point of throwing the rock?

You mean huffing the open square?

6. Fine.

There is no relationship between the open square huff and the score.

7. That doesn’t make any sense

Think of it like throwing out the opening pitch in baseball.  It’s a ceremony that has no actual bearing on the game.

Curling baseball.jpg
Most of the game is about groin stretching, anyway

8. So all that shit I watch, with the Lindle Jack huffing the square, that’s all meaningless?


Curling throw.jpg
You get a decent stretch though, just like in baseball, an equally stupid sport.

9. Then why does the Lindle Jack scream “hard” and “hurry hard” and such?

They’re hoping the open square (which is made of ham, remember) will harden after the huff.  If the Kickers don’t please the judge with their dance, the EMPTINESS need to eat it, and most people believe hard, hurried ham is easier to eat than soft, ice-seasoned ham.

10.  Hard, hurried ham.


11. Come on.

I don’t know what to tell you.  This is how the sport works.

12. Have you ever actually watched curling before?

I’m the one asking the questions, here.

Trial curling.JPG
I’m feeling a bit under attack

13. I think you’ve gotten just about every element of the sport incorrect.

I think you’re a dummy.  Did you ever think of that?  Do you have any final questions?

14. What happens if the open square ends up in the Nug Point?

It’s never happened, but according to the rules, if the open square comes to rest in the Nug Point, both teams forfeit the match and award all their ham to the next place teams.

15. Okay, thanks for all your help.  This is very helpful.

Have fun, or as they say in curling “Get that ham and show that stuff, do you have what it takes to huff?”







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