By Garret Heinrich

We’ve hit the hole.  That hole in most of your lives where you don’t know what to do.  Don’t worry.  I’m here for you.  I’ve got the cure for the February void in the sports landscape.  Curling.

Yes, curling; your new favorite sport in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.  You might not have known it, but then again maybe you did.  Maybe you like many other people who, in 2010 jumped on the curling enjoyment bandwagon of fun in Vancouver.   And finally it is back!

With the Winter Games starting in Sochi forget about all the Figure Skating that gets shoved down your throat.  No one really likes figure skating.  The only reason people watch it is to see if these girls and guys will catch a toe pick and slam down on the ice.  It’s like NASCAR but with sequence and lame music.

So make the conscious effort to search your guide for CNBC and NBC Sports Network as they’ll be showing the real gem of the Winter Games.  And if you are one of the many who haven’t watched curling, don’t worry.  I’m here, to not only teach you about it, but I’m going to turn it into your favorite social game with some beer and friends (yes, curling is the perfect drinking game!).

Get ready to learn all about winter shuffle board meets bowling meets house cleaning!  (They use brooms to sweep the ice to make the stones go faster and straighter.   I was either going to go with house cleaning or a STOMP! reference but I wasn’t sure if anyone still knows what STOMP! is.)

We’ll start with the basics phrases you’ll want to know:

Stone or Rock: The big smooth rocks that the players throw down the ice. They weigh 42 pounds, the size of a five year old child. But they use rocks because the IOC has qualms about throwing five year-olds down sheets of ice.

House: The rings or bull’s-eye toward which play is directed and points are scored. The outside ring is 3.66 meters in diameter, the next ring is 2.44 meters in diameter, the next ring is 1.22 meters in diameter, and the inside ring (button) is 0.3 meters in diameter. Meters are like feet but different and confusing to me. Feel free to Google the conversion.

Button: This is the house’s bull’s-eye the players are aiming for. It is integral in how an end is scored.

End: The inning of a curling match. There are 10 ends in each match.

Eight-Ender: This is pretty much the No-Hitter of curling. When one teams scores all eight of its stones in one End.

Blank End: No one scores any stones during an end.

Hammer: The last stone delivered in each end. This a big part of the curling drinking game.

Guard: A stone that is placed in front of another stone for protection.  I’ve tried to officially change this term to the Kevin Costner, but the CCA (Canadian Curling Association) has not approved this yet.

Sheet: The sheet of ice. See it’s not that hard. Now try explaining the difference between a triple toe loop and a triple lutz. They jump and spin three times.  Somehow it’s different.  I don’t care.  The Russian judge isn’t paying attention anyway.

Freeze: When one stone stops touching another stone.

Touched Running Stone/Burning A Rock: When a member of one team touches a stone in play.  The stone that was touched then gets removed.  .

Now that you have the lingo totally memorized (there are more things that you’ll hear during the course of a match, but those are the big ones.) you’re ready to start learning the rules.  (I feel like that voice over guy in the Goofy the videos where he’s learning to ski or play baseball.)

The Rules:

Two teams of four people throw eight stones per team (Two stones per person) alternating teams per each stone).  At the end of each end a team is awarded points.  The team with the most points at the conclusion (I couldn’t say end of end again) of all 10 ends wins!

A coin flip is held before each match to determine the team with the hammer advantage (who throws the last stone in the final end).  We are assuming the coin is a Canadian five cent piece, but it could really be any coin.  We just like that in Canada they put a beaver on their coins.  In America we put Presidents.  AMERICA WINS!

Scoring:  A team scores one point for every stone closer to the center (or centre in Canadian) of the house than the opposing team’s closest stone. Only one team can score per end.

Example: Canada has two stones touching the Button inside of Norway’s one stone sitting in the house.  Canada gets two points for that end.

The end ends when all 16 rocks (eight per team, two per person) have been delivered. The score for each end is determined when all stones have been thrown and come to rest.

Games run to the completion of ten ends. The word ‘end’ instead of inning or frame  makes for great comedy when the announcer says things like: “The Swede’s ends have just been rock solid” and “I don’t think those ends could have been any harder for the Scots.” It also tends to seem borderline inappropriate, but still hilarious, when the same thing is said during the women’s matches.


Emma Miskew of Canada - Click The Photo For The Full Gallery (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Emma Miskew of Canada – Click The Photo For The Full Gallery (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Sorry for the distraction, to finish up the scoring and rules: Add up the total number of points at the end of 10 ends and the team with the most points wins.

It’s that simple!

Now that you know the rules/scoring/game flow/attractive women play it, we can begin with the adult beverage consuming portion of our curling tutorial.  (Please drink responsibly, do not drink and drive and understand this is just suggestions, I’m not making you do anything.)

Step 1:
Break off into teams.

Step 2: Flip a coin (preferably from Canada, Norway, Scotland or Finland but a quarter will do) to see who picks their team first.  Each drinking team pairs up with a country.  (Example: Team A wins the coin flip and takes Canada. Team B gets Norway and their awesome pants.)

Awesome Pants Norway! (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Awesome Pants Norway! (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Adult Beverage Consumption Game Rules:

  • 1 drink for every point your team gets at the end of each end.
  • 3 drinks if your team’s throw lands touching  the button
  • Finish your drink if your team burns a stone.
  • 1 drink anytime an opposing stone removes one of your team’s stones.
  • Chug during the entire time your team is throwing their hammer.  From release to settlement.
  • 1 drink for everyone anytime there is a Blank End.
  • Finish your drink and chug an entire new drink if your team gets an Eight-Ender

So study up.  Pass this around to your friends and get ready, because the Norwegians are coming and they have some crazy pants.

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