Curling 101: What is this Olympic sport?

    6:12 AM, Feb 10, 2014   |    comments
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    POTOMAC, Maryland (CNN) -- It's not as flashy as the ski jumpers or as elegant as the figure skaters. But since returning to official Winter Olympic competition in 1998, curling has picked up a bit of a cult following in the U.S., even if most TV viewers don't understand what's going on.

    Around Potomac, Marlyand curling is no joke. And with curling competition set to begin in Sochi, the Potomac Curling Club will likely get a lot more visitors. Joe Rockenbach with the club said, "Like most clubs in the United States, we get very popular every 4 years."

    Sometimes referred to as "chess on ice," curling traces its roots to Scotland. Following the sport means learning the lingo.

    The name comes from the spin, or curl, on the rock as it's released towards a target. Rockenbach explains the game saying, "The bulls-eye is called The House, that's where all the scoring takes place. We mentioned before we've got the hacks, the starting blocks. You'll see also on curling ice, you'll have a thick blue line, one on each side of the sheet, those are called the hog lines. A draw which is when you simply want to put a rock in a specific place. You have a take-out which is when you want to hit a rock out of a scoring area, or out of place. You have a guard which is a rock protecting a shot that you have. An end is when all of the rocks are thrown and you tabulate the score. Think of it like an inning in baseball.

    It may not look like it requires that much athleticism, but there's more than meets the eye, especially in the sweeping of the ice, melting it ahead of the rock for an easy glide.
    Rockenback said there's an equal amount of brains and brawn in this game and plenty of good spirit.

    In Potomac and even in Olympic echelons, the winner buys the loser a round at the end of play. Kevin Ritter said, "The cool thing about this is sport is it doesn't matter what team you're on, it's just who's playing well. Good curling is good curling."

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