Norway’s curlers compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. The Scandinavians are known for their colorful uniforms. (Tom Peterson for The Washington Post)

Curling is contested on ice – called a sheet – with targets at either end, referred to as the house. The house is made up of 12-, 8- and 4-foot rings and the center, called a button.

Teams take turns sliding a large granite stone, sometimes called a rock, from one end of the sheet toward the house at the other end. A curler can control the amount a rock will turn, or curl, by applying rotation to the handle.

Each team has eight stones – which must weigh between 38 and 44 pounds – and when both teams have thrown all their stones, the end is complete. Points are scored for placing a stone closest to the button at the finish of each end. An Olympic game consists of 10 ends and lasts about 2 hours 40 minutes.

Two teammates, or sweeps, use brushes to smooth a path for the rock to decrease friction and make it curl (or bend) less.

Curling is often called “chess on ice” because of sometimes-lengthy discussions held before each shot. That is why each team is given 38 minutes of strategy time per game.

Q: How many curling events will be contested in Pyeongchang?

Three: men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. The men’s and women’s teams each include four curlers and an alternate. The captain of each team is called the skip. A mixed doubles team is two players. The format for all three events is a round-robin tournament followed by any tiebreakers, then the semifinals, bronze and gold medal matches.


Q: Which countries are participating?

Short answer: It depends on the discipline. Here’s the long answer:

  • Mixed doubles: Canada, China, Finland, Norway, Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), South Korea, Switzerland, United States
  • Men’s: Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United States
  • Women’s: Britain, Canada, China, Denmark, Japan, OAR, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United States

Q: Which countries are the best at curling?

Canada is the most obvious answer. Its men’s team has medaled in every Games since 1998, including gold in the past three Olympics. Norway and Switzerland are also among the top men’s teams. The Canadian women’s team also has medaled in five straight Olympics, including gold in 2014. Sweden won gold in 2006 and 2010 and silver four years ago. Britain is also a team to watch.

Q: Has the United States ever won an Olympic medal in curling?

Once, when skip John Shuster and his team won bronze at the 2006 Turin Games. Shuster will be skip again in Korea.

Q: Who is competing for the United States?

The men’s team will be led by Shuster and includes John Landsteiner, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and Joe Polo (alternate). Nina Roth skips the women’s team that includes Becca Hamilton, Aileen Geving, Tabitha Peterson and Cory Christensen (alternate). The Hamilton siblings also will compete in mixed doubles.

Q: Who is U.S. curling’s biggest supporter?

Funny you should ask. That would be Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, who will be at the Gangneung Curling Centre to watch all the action.

Q: When is it contested?

The tournament runs from Feb. 8 – before the opening ceremony – until Feb. 25 in South Korea. (Because of the time difference, the first matches are 7 p.m. Eastern time Feb. 7, and the final one is 7 p.m. Eastern time Feb. 24.)


Mixed doubles, a first-time Olympic event, kicks off the competition. There are two sessions a day, and all eight teams play in each session. The times are 9-11 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. in Korea. That format holds from Feb. 8-12, with the bronze and gold medal matches filling those slots Feb. 13.

The men’s and women’s events are contested in three sessions – at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. – from Feb. 14-21. The women’s tiebreakers are Feb. 22 in the morning session, and the men’s semifinals are 8 p.m. On Feb. 23, the men’s bronze medal match is at 3:30 p.m., and the women’s semifinal is at 8 p.m. The men’s gold medal is determined Feb. 24 at 3:30; the women’s bronze medal match is at 8 that night. On the final day, the women’s gold medal match begins at 9 a.m.

Q: When can I watch it on TV?

Pretty much any time of the day or night, but only one match will be shown live. Here is a schedule of the finals, with television coverage in parentheses (all times Eastern). The live telecast is in bold. Races are also available by live-streaming at or on the NBC app.

  • Feb. 12: Mixed doubles bronze medal, 7:05 p.m. (NBCSN, 1:30 p.m.-2:40 a.m.)
  • Feb. 13: Mixed doubles gold medal, 6:05 a.m. (CNBC, 5-8 p.m.)
  • Feb. 23: Men’s bronze medal, 1:35 a.m. (NBCSN, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.)
  • Feb. 24: Men’s gold medal, 1:35 a.m. (NBCSN, 3-6:30 a.m.); women’s bronze medal, 6:05 a.m. (NBCSN, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.)
  • Feb. 24: Women’s gold medal, 7:05 p.m. (NBCSN, 7-10:30 p.m.)

Check the full Olympic schedule

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