2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Curling 101 – Sweeping and ‘Throwing’

Published: February 7, 2014, 6:40 am, by Dena Rosenberry

Exhibition GameTime to answer a few more questions that I’ve been asked about curling:

Are you the thrower or the sweeper?
I’m both. In fact, all players throw, or deliver, stones and sweep stones.

After one player delivers a stone toward the skip, or captain, who is standing in the opposite house, his or her teammates may begin sweeping the ice in front of the moving stone.

Who sweeps and who throws?
Each team member delivers two stones per end in a game (in national or international competition, that’s 20 stones per game per person). Generally, three members of each team sweep the rock down the ice, alternating the activity for their teammates. (Players #2 and #3 sweep for Player #1; Players #1 and #3 sweep for Player #2, Players #1 and #2 sweep for Player #3, Players #1 and #2 sweep for Player #4.)

Player #4 generally only sweeps if a stone outside the house if it is particularly light or is veering off its intended path.

That’s me on the right in the photo, sweeping with Olympian Nicole Joraanstad for Olympian Tracy Sachtjen during an exhibition game in 2009 in Madison, Wis.

What does sweeping do?
Sweeping slightly warms tiny bumps of ice, called pebble, on the sheet, which helps keep the stone on a specific path and can pull it toward the target. It reduces the friction between the stone and the sheet of ice. I’ve been told that an excellent pair of sweepers can draw a stone another 102-15 feet or so. Here’s a video when all four players had to “hurry hard!”

Email questions to dena.rosenberry@gazette.com.  Follow me on Twitter: djrosenberry