The British women's curling team competing in the final match at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt —Roberto SchmidtAFP/Getty Images
Game in which two teams of four players each slide a round stone by means of a gooseneck handle on the top over a 138-ft (42-m) stretch of ice toward a target circle. The object is to deliver the stone closest to the centre (called the house). Each player delivers two stones, which average 40 lbs (18.1 kg) apiece, often applying a curl to the stone's trajectory. The player's teammates use a broom to sweep the ice ahead of the oncoming stone in order to facilitate a longer slide or to adjust the arc of the curl. Blocking and knocking out an opponent's stones are important strategies of the sport. Curling originated in Scotland in the early 16th century. World championships have been held since 1959 and are usually dominated by Canadians and Scandinavians. In 1998 curling became a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games.