If you’ve watched any of the Winter Olympics this year, you have probably been spell bound by the acrobatics of the free-style skiing or the insane speed of both the luge and the skeleton where Olympic athletes fly down an icy track at speed of over 70 mph. But, you may have also noticed an interesting sport called “curling.” A unique mix of shuffleboard and bowling on ice, with the strategy of chess thrown in for good measure, curling features two four-person teams who alternate sliding a large stone across the ice toward a bull’s-eye 126 feet away.

So exactly how is curling played? Each game consists of 10 “ends” or periods (like innings in baseball), in which teams take turns sliding 42-pound polished granite stones across a sheet of ice toward a bull’s-eye of four concentric circles 12 feet in diameter. The bull’s-eye is called the “house,” and its center is the “tee.”

Each player shoots twice from each end. Teams earn points when their stones are closest to the center of the bull’s-eye after all 16 shots. Some players will aim for the bull’s-eye, while others may aim to knock other players’ stones out of position. Players must strategize how best to keep their stones closest to the bull’s-eye. When players slide their stones, they use a special technique that involves a twist of the wrist. As the stone slides across the ice, it will “curl” or curve much like a bowling ball hooks down the lane at a bowling alley. Once a player releases a stone, then the brooms come into play. Most people unfamiliar with curling wonder why the players chase the stone down the ice, furiously sweeping the surface in its path. As the stone curls toward its intended target, the other three team members use special brooms to sweep the surface of the ice in the stone’s path, which can cause the stone to change both speed and direction. The sweeping motion creates friction, which melts the ice and creates a thin layer of water that makes the stone curl less and travel farther. Sweeping can help a stone travel up to 15 feet farther.

So, what is your favorite sport of the 2014 Winter Olympics? At Southern Oaks Apartments, we love to here from our residents, so check out our Facebook page post your favorite Winter Olympic sport.