The Real Reason Olympic Curlers Yell So Much Is All About Strategy

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Curling is a hallmark of the Winter Olympics. If you have been watching curlers compete over the past few days, you may have noticed competitors shouting as the stone moves down the ice — and wondered why there's so much yelling in curling. As it turns out, yelling is the way the skip, or team captain, communicates how the sweepers should continue to move the stone down the ice in order to secure the best shot.

According to Mic, curling is a sport in which two teams composed of four players each alternately slide heavy granite stones down an ice sheet. Each team's goal is to get their stones as close as possible to the center of a target at the end of the ice sheet (this target area is known as the house). To move their stones (which weigh 42 pounds each), teams rapidly sweep the ice in front of the stone to quickly polish it, which then allows the stone to move forward more rapidly. Teams are not allowed to touch the stone while sweeping.

Mic reported that the yelling aspect of curling comes in when the stone is being swept down the ice. The skip yells different commands to those sweeping the stone to help guide them as they move toward the house. Some of the most commonly yelled commands are "hurry," which means to sweep as fast as possible; "hurry hard," which means to sweep quickly and apply downward pressure; and "clean," which means to keep the broom on the ice with minimal pressure in order to make sure nothing impedes the stone's path.

According to Thrillist, citing NBC and the Olympics Channel, other popular curling terms include "whoa," which means to stop sweeping, and "yup," which means to sweep.

As reported by Mic, each phase of a curling match is called an "end" and, during an end, both teams sweep all of their stones (eight per team). A curling match consists of ten ends total. After ten ends, the team which acquired the most points wins. Points are determined based on if and where the stones land within the house.

In addition to featuring a lot of yelling, curling also has a variety of other unique features. According to Mental Floss, sportsmanship is actually a hallmark of curling and is considered an integral part of the sport. As the outlet reported, opposing teams often openly congratulate each other on the ice for making good shots. Moreover, forfeiting a match after the sixth end if a team has nearly no chance of winning is considered a polite and sportsmanly tactic. Finally, it is reportedly often a curling tradition for a winning team to buy a losing team a first round of drinks after a match.

Politeness and sportsmanship are so important in curling that the first page of the official World Curling Federation rulebook discusses the concepts, which it refers to as the "Spirit of Curling." The Federation is very explicit in demanding politeness and honesty from its players, noting:

... Curlers never knowingly break a rule of the game, nor disrespect any of fits traditions. Should they become aware that this has been done inadvertently, they will be the first to divulge the breach.While the main object of the game of curling is to determine the relative skill of the players, the spirit of curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honourable conduct ...

The mixed doubles curling tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympics took place from Feb. 8 to Feb. 13. However, the men's and women's curling tournaments are still ongoing. Thus, there is plenty of time left to watch as curlers from around the world compete in their unique and impressive sport.