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Curling made its Olympic debut at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Games.
Men and women currently compete in 10-team events. The sport is played on temperature-controlled sheets of ice, and the two teams take turns to deliver a 44-pound (19.96kg) stone towards a series of concentric circles. The object is to get the stone as close to the centre of the circles as possible to score more points than the opponent, using sweeping instruments to affect both the accuracy and speed of each stone.
Teams are composed of four players each. “The lead” in each team throws first, followed by “second”, then the “third” (also known as the “vice-skip”) and finally the “skip”, who is the captain of the team. A match starts with the leads alternating throws until they have both delivered their two stones. The seconds then throw in the same manner, and so on. Up to two players sweep each of their own team’s delivered stones.
Unlike recreational curling, which is suitable for all, curling at Olympic level is highly demanding. High-performance curlers need to be as mentally strong and physically conditioned as any other athlete to achieve peak performance.
One match consists of ten “ends” or rounds of throws. The score for the end is determined when all 16 stones have been delivered. A team can have one or several stones closest to the centre and score therefore one or several points in each end. The team with the most points after all ten ends have been completed, or after the opponent has conceded, is the winner.