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Nuclear Curling

You won’t find Nuclear Curling anywhere except at the Potomac Curling Club. It is the brain child of Brian Galebach who has figured out a way to use all four sheets of ice, with only eight curlers, and the total disregard for any sideline (or bumper) conventions. It is expected that you will often throw your stone towards the house on another sheet. A complete game takes about 15 minutes. Naturally, it could be modified for a three (or even two) sheet club. [Read more…]


What the heck are they doing with those brushes? And why are they doing it? Vigorous sweeping, quickly and with pressure, tends to melt the surface of the pebble just a tiny bit. You can’t see it, but it’s there. This tiny sheen of water on the tops of the pebbles has has two purposes:

  1.  to make a delivered stone travel farther, and
  2.  to straighten out the curve of a delivered stone.

A third and unofficial reason to sweep is to keep warm! You will also see sweepers brushing lightly in front of the moving stone to “clean” the ice. This tends to eliminate sweater fuzz, pocket lint, dust, dirt from somebody’s shoe, etc. that may affect the path of the stone. [Read more…]


The spirit of the roaring game demands good sportsmanship, common courtesies, and honorable conduct. While not strictly in the rule books, curling courtesy goes a long way towards an enjoyable day of curling. By following these generally accepted courtesies you will be welcomed and accepted as a curler at clubs all over the world. In October 2010, Ann Drummie consolidated a series of tips about curling at PCC, making the game move more quickly, etc.  and it’s available here (pdf, 78kb).


  1. Be honest. There are rarely referees or umpires in curling, so the game depends on players to police themselves and one another, especially during league play. If perchance you accidentally burn a stone, it is expected that you will be the first to announce it.
  2. Be a good sport. Congratulate players, both teammates and opponents, when they make a good shot. By the same standard, do not embarrass a player who has missed a shot. Cheering a missed shot is considered in poor taste and poor sportsmanship. Also do not make light of any bad fortune that befalls your opponent.
  3. Keep the game moving. A standard eight end game takes 2 full hours to play, so it’s a courtesy to your team, your opponents, and anybody playing after you to be on time, prompt and mindful of the clock. If you start late or play slowly, do not assume that you will be able to play a complete, 8-end game. If you notice that you are a full end or two behind all the other sheets, pick up the pace. There are more hints below.

Before the game:

  1. If you can’t curl, please find your own spare. That’s your job, not the skips. Check the spares list for your league and give them as much notice as possible. Failing that, an email to often turns up a willing volunteer.
  2. Arrive in plenty of time, at least 10 minutes early to change shoes and/or clothes. Be ready to hit the ice at the scheduled time. Seven other people are depending on you.
  3. If you perchance are going to be just a bit late (ok, with traffic on the beltway maybe a lot late), please call the warm room and let the rest of your fellow curlers know. Please join the game between ends, not in the middle of an end. It’s a great suggestion to put the warm room telephone number (301-362-1116) in your cell phone. If you’re reading this, go do it now, don’t wait.
  4. Clean shoes are a must. Ideally curling shoes, or soft soled shoes dedicated to curling. Try not to wear your street shoes on the ice as you may accidentally track in mud, sand, or salt, giving the ice committee ulcers.
  5. The game traditionally starts with a coin toss for hammer, a handshake, and wishes for “Good Curling”.

During the game:

  1. If your team leads off on any particular end, the lead should gather his or her rock and get in the hack, clean the stone, and begin the pre-shot routine. Be ready to deliver the stone as soon as the skip asks for it. The remainder of the curlers will wrestle the rocks to their proper position along the sides. This keeps the game moving quickly.
  2. When your turn comes to sweep, be in front of the hack, leaving the thrower a clear view of the skip, ready to go. If you can’t be in position, tell your teammates to proceed with the shot without you.
  3. Sweepers, not on the team delivering the stone, stand on the sides of the sheet, between the courtesy lines. Those lines are new this year, and are some three feet past each hog line. Formerly accepted was standing between the hog lines, however beginning in the 2007-08 curling season the World Curling Federation mandated the new lines. Ours are pale blue, easily visible out on the ice, but not distracting to the play of the game. This positioning allows the curler delivering the stone an unobstructed view of the skip and the house and allows for easier and quicker communications.
  4. If you are the next curler, put on your slider or remove your gripper and have your stone cleaned and in front of the hack while your opponent’s shot is in motion. It’s OK to watch your opponent’s shot, but not so long that you can’t be ready for your own.
  5. You should never disturb a curler in the hack or during delivery. Until their thrown stone comes to rest, the sheet is theirs and you should not interrupt their view. Crossing behind them, preparing to throw your own stone is perfectly acceptable and expected.
  6. Keep the ice clean! If you do discover something improper on the ice, such as mud, sand, sweater fuzz, pocket lint, broom bristles, etc., please remove it from the ice and deposit it in a trash can.
  7. Take care not to walk down the middle of the sheet after your team’s shot. You should walk on the sides to minimize wearing down the pebble, but more importantly to provide a clear view for the next curler to deliver the stone. They cannot determine what shot the skip calls for, nor can they deliver a stone if you are strolling down the middle of the sheet.
  8. Do not drop the brooms, especially in Plainfield
  9. Let the vice-skips do his/her job (keep score). When the final stone of an end comes to rest in the house, leads and seconds should remain well outside the house until the vice-skips have measured (if necessary), determined the score, and agreed to move stones.
  10. Let the skip do his/her job (call the game). Although every successful team depends on the input and expertise of each team member (curling is a team sport in every respect) the skip needs the support and respect of his/her teammates. Skips have the responsibility of determining strategy, calling shots and working with sweepers to make the most out of every shot of the game. So while discussion, communication and clarification are encouraged, be willing and able to defer to your skip’s decisions even if you don’t understand or agree with them.
  11. Skips stand behind the hack, quiet and motionless, brooms horizontal or on the ground until their opponent has delivered the stone.
  12. If you accidentally displace a stationary stone, please announce it immediately. It’s the privilege of the opposing skip to replace the stone to their satisfaction.
  13. Your enthusiasm and paying attention to your own game, and not the game on the adjoining sheet, has a direct bearing on the success of your team.
  14. Do we really need to tell you not to answer the blankety blank cuss cuss dash dash cell phone while you are out on the ice? I thought not.

Speed of Play & Techniques:

  1. If a rock appears to be heavy, do not shake your broom over it, even in jest. You never know what might fall off the broom and deflect your perfectly aimed stone.
  2. Sweepers should follow the stone down to the house, ready to sweep at a moment’s notice. If you hear the skip yelling “No, No, Never”, be aware that the next thing you’re likely to hear from that very same skip is “YES, Hurry, Hard!”.
  3. As another courtesy to keep the game moving, it is typically the lead’s job to place the skip’s rock in front of the hack when it is time for the skip to shoot.
  4. Skips can do their part to keep the game moving by minimizing the delay while deciding upon a shot. Certainly take the time you need, but lengthy conferences should be avoided.

After the game:

  1. The game end with handshakes all around and sincere congratulations to the winners
  2. Return any loaner brooms or sliders, tidy up the rocks, mop the ice and cover the hacks if there is not another draw waiting.
  3. Our club has four sheets of ice and four large round tables in the warm room. This is not a coincidence! It is expected that the winners will buy (or offer to buy) their counterparts the beverage of their choice after the game. Both rinks enjoy each others company and some lively conversation about your favorite topic(s) around the tables. The losing curlers invariably offer to buy the second round.
  4. Our club is an all volunteer organization. Please become involved somehow in the improvement of the Potomac Curling Club.

Curling Terminology

What’s an end? A freeze? How deep do you have to dig to “bury a stone?”  Like any other sport, curling comes with its own unique vocabulary. Check out our glossary so you can talk the talk too. [Read more…]

The Spirit of Curling

Curling is a game of skill and of traditions. A shot well executed is a delight to see and so, too, it is a fine thing to observe the time-honoured traditions of curling being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win but never to humble their opponents. A true curler would prefer to lose rather than win unfairly. [Read more…]

History of Curling and Its Place in the World

Curling has come a long way from the 16th century when hardy Scots slid odd-shaped rocks called ‘loafies’ on the frozen lochs and marshes of Scotland. Today the game is played indoors on meticulously prepared ice with polished 42-pound granite rocks that gleam like jewels as they rumble their way down towards brightly colored houses. It became an Olympic medal sport in 1998 at the Nagano games in Japan and proved to be extremely popular at the Salt Lake City games in 2002 We continue to see an upswing in interest every four years, coincident with the Winter Olympic Games.

Curling in the United States dates back to the 1830s when Scottish soldiers and settlers brought the game to Michigan. From there it spread northward into Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and other other states in the Curling Heartland of America, where it remains popular. Today there are over 15,000 curlers and 135 clubs in the U.S., most in the north central US. but also in about 20 or states. Still more clubs are forming in the wake of the Olympic popularity. The Kansas City Curling Club has a fascinating map of US clubs. [Read more…]

Books & Videos

Curling Books – The books, which are mostly published in Canada, are available online at commercial vendors. [Read more…]