2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Curling 101 – Touching a stone

Published: February 16, 2014, 8:11 pm, by Dena Rosenberry

I received another great question early this morning from ReillyMama2: “What happens if you knock the other teams curl (stone) with either the broom or your foot?”

Moving rock close upBecause there are specific rules about touching, or “burning,” stones, I expanded the question.

I wish I had a short answer, but, as the phrase goes, “it’s complicated.”

What happens when you touch, or “burn,” a stone (usually a touch of a shoe, broom or body part) depends on where the offense occurs.

If you burn your own team’s stone between the near tee line and far hog line, your team immediately “calls the foul” and removes that stone from play.

curling_sheetIf the opposing team burns your team’s stone as it is delivered down the ice between the near tee line and the far hog line, you may stop the stone and redeliver it.

If your team’s stone is in the field of play, beyond the far hog line, and someone on your team burns it, all stones are allowed to come to rest, then your opponent has options:
a) remove the burned stone and replace all stones that were displaced after the infraction to their original positions
or
b) leave all stones where they came to rest
or
c) place all stones where they believe the stones would have come to rest had the moving stone not been burned.If your team’s stone is in the field of play, beyond the far hog line, and someone on the opposition team burns it, all stones are allowed to come to rest and your team places the stones where you believe they would have come to rest, had the moving stone not been burned.

Note: If something else hits a stone in the field of play – a piece of a light fixture falls from the ceiling, say – all stones are allowed to come to rest, and then are placed where they would have come to rest if the incident had not occurred. If the teams cannot agree, the stone is redelivered after all displaced stones have been replaced to their original positions.

It should also be said that, for the most part, curling is officiated by players. If you burn a stone, you’re expected to call yourself out. Sometimes, if it’s apparent to your opponents that the touch made absolutely no difference in the play, the offense is noted and ignored. Your opponent will thank you for pointing it out and say “no worries.” Sometimes, even if the touch made no difference, your opponent will employ the maximum penalty. That’s just how it goes.

Included in the first paragraphs of the curling rule book:
“Curlers never knowingly break a rule of the game, nor disrespect any of its traditions. Should they become aware that this has been done inadvertently, they will be the first to divulge the breach. While the main object of the game of curling is to determine the relative skill of the players, the spirit of curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honorable conduct.”

(You may have seen the USA men’s team pull a stone from play during their oh-so-close game against Canada. The stone apparently was burned by a USA sweeper as it traveled down the ice, likely by a broom head. The team pulled the stone, even though in the replay you couldn’t see that the touch made a difference in the direction of the stone’s travel nor its speed.)