Curling is far more than its widely recognized characteristics of throwing and sweeping, it is the strategy employed that makes the sport so compelling to watch. There are several things the team is trying to accomplish when sliding the rock down the ice. The most important, as previously mentioned, is to have the rock closest to the button at the conclusion of the end. Yet to accomplish that, the team may need to defend their rock or eliminate the other team’s position. This can be done several ways.
To defend a rock in the house, the team can throw a guard, which is a rock that is out side of the house but in front of the scoring rock. This makes it more difficult for the opposing team to knock the shot out of position, or get a rock closer to the button. Similarly, the team can choose to employ a freeze, which is a shot that lands the rock up against another rock but is also in the house and therefore a potential scoring shot.
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There are several shots used to take the other team’s rock out of play. For example a hit-and-roll will knock the opposing teams shot out of the house, eliminating the opposing stone but allowing the shot to end in a scoring position. There are even times when it is advantageous for a team to do this with one of their own rocks. At times the only way to take the opposing team’s rock out is to take your shot out as well. Many times, teams will use this strategy to remove a guard. This is a take out or a peel.
• The Hammer
The biggest advantage a team can have is the final shot of an end. This is referred to as the hammer. The team that does not score receives the hammer in the following end. At times a team will sacrifice a point in order to gain or keep the hammer for the subsequent end. Controlling the last shot in the concluding end can mean the difference between winning or protecting the lead.
Olympic Curling – The Long and Short
Like many compelling sports the beauty of the game lies in its simplicity, and the enjoyment lies in the strategy. With a new-found understanding of Olympic curling, cheer on the US Men’s Olympic team in the semi finals on Thursday. Or find a club and take in the sport live or become a curler! There are many ways to enjoy the elegant simplicity of curling.
Team USA Men’s Curling Gold Medal Match Against Sweden is on Saturday 24 February, 2018 at 1:35 AM EST (3:35 PM, PyeongChang) on NBCSN or fuboTV