The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially begun. And many don’t realize that even though the Opening Ceremony isn’t until tomorrow, February 9th, several events are already taking place. Most notably, curling!
In fact, the U.S. curling doubles team beat out the Russian team earlier today, much to the delight of many U.S. Olympic aficionados (although truth be told, most people were talking about curling today because of Russian player Anastasia Bryzgalova, who may or may not be Meghan Fox’s doppelgänger).
As pumped as many of us are for the initial games and victory, a ton of people are also currently wondering one simple thing: How do you play curling, anyway? It’s arguably one of the most mysterious — and weirdest looking — of all the Winter Olympic events.
The good news is, it’s not that hard to understand!
A traditional curling team consists of four players per side. After a coin is tossed to see which team goes first, each team takes turns throwing 44 pound stones down a sheet of ice. The target is a “house” (basically, a flat bullseye on the ice) 150 feet away from the starting point.
Each team has eight stones, which they take turns throwing. Whichever team has the stone closest to the center of the “house” by the end of the round wins.
But there’s more.
Players also have “curling brooms” which they use to frantically sweep and smooth the ice in front of the stone as it travels. The texture of the ice has a huge impact on the stone’s speed and direction, and sweeping takes a ton of skill and dexterity.
Team captains are called “Skips,” and they basically bark orders the entire game, helping their team with stone trajectory and strategy. For example, one team can try for a “takeout” in which they attempt to knock an opposing team’s stone off track.
This process is repeated for six to 10 rounds, and the team with the most points at the end wins.
So there you have it, folks! The basics of curling (though there are admittedly a ton of other minor, super nuanced rules that we won’t get into here). Here’s an awesome vid if you want to find out a little more:
Now go forth and impress everyone you know with your newfound Olympic-related knowledge.