What are Curling Sheets?
A curling sheet is the surface on which the sport of curling is competed. The sheet is made of smooth ice, making it easier for the curling stone and the athletes to move across its surface. The surface is measured to be as level as possible so that there is no advantage or disadvantage to competitors. It is a rectangle, measuring at 150 feet long and 16 feet wide.
In some competitions, several sheets are laid out next to each other so that multiple teams can compete at once. At the end of the sheet is the house where curlers aim to land their stones. It is circular like a target with an inner circle and an outer circle.
To navigate the sheet, competitors will wear special shoes called curling shoes or sliders. This allows them to move across the icy surface smoothly. Athletes have to be extra careful to keep their balance, as the ice can be very easy to slip on.
Creating the Ice
Some sheets are created naturally with fresh water, while others are created in refrigerated factories with a mixture of salt water. Either way, the water is pumped into a shallow pan and then frozen. Most locations with curling sheets will have someone on staff to maintain the ice at all times to ensure safety for players and a surface appropriate for curling. Ice makers, as these maintenance people are called, have to constantly monitor the ice and adjust temperatures and humidity levels to ensure the ice doesn't melt. Sometimes, the ice itself will have monitors in it, so that ice makers can be sure of the condition of the ice.
Before competitions, a layer of water will be sprayed onto the surface of the sheet. This causes pebbling which gives the stone its iconic curl. As the pebbling wears down during competition, another layer of water has to be sprayed before the next game.
Lines on the Curling Sheet
The curling sheet is between 144 and 150 feet long, and 14 feet, 2 inches to 15 feet wide.
There are six types of lines on a curling sheet. Every curling sheet has the following lines:
There are two different types of ice that a curler can play on called dedicated ice and arena ice.
- Dedicated Ice: this ice is only used by curlers, and will not be used by other parties.
- Arena Ice: this ice is used by curlers, hockey players, figure skaters, and the like.
All curling sheets must be prepared and ready for play before a game of curling can begin. Curling clubs with arena ice will usually need more time to prepare the ice than those with dedicated ice.
The backlines are the lines located on the short ends of the curling sheet, right behind the house. The house is the concentric circles on both sides of the curling sheet. If a curling stone completely passes the backline, it is considered to be out-of-play.
The tee lines are the lines parallel to the backlines, but run through the middle of the house. A tee line bisects the house into two halves called the front half (between the tee line and hog line) and the back half (between the tee line and backline).
The centerline is a line parallel to both sidelines that runs in the middle of the sheet, between both backlines. The centerline runs between the backlines, whereas the sidelines run the entire length of the sheet.
Four Foot Lines
The four foot lines are lines that run parallel to the centerline, and extend from the circle in the house that is four feet in diameter. Unlike the centerline, the four foot lines only run in between the tee lines.
Curling Sheet Parts
In addition to the lines that we learned about in Curling Sheet Lines, there are other parts and components to the curling sheet that we need to learn. The components of a curling sheet are:
The hack is a foothold placed at both ends of the ice, six feet behind the backline. This allows a place for curlers to push off and deliver their curling stone. A hack has two footholds: one for a curler that pushes off with their left foot, and one for a curler that pushes off with their right foot.
The boards are located behind each hack, and are the true ends of the curling sheet. At some curling clubs, the boards may or may not be precisely located. This isn't a big issue because stones are out-of-play after they cross the backline (as mentioned in Curling Sheet Lines).
The Guard Zone
The guard zone is one of the largest areas on the curling sheet. On each side of the curling sheet, the guard zone is defined as the area in between the hog line and the tee line, excluding the area taken up by the house.
The skip may tell the thrower and sweepers that a guard shot needs to be thrown. This means that the stone must end up in the guard zone, in front of the house. Typically, guards end up in the half of the guard zone that is closer to the house. However, the skip may call for a high guard, which means that the stone should be in the half of the guard zone that is closer to the hog line.
In the house, there are two main locations that the stone could end up called the front half and back half. The front half of the house is the portion of the house in between the guard zone and the tee line. Within this half, there are four sub-locations:
PRO TIP: Knowing the location of where the stone needs to end up can help you determine the speed at which your stone needs to be released. In curling, this is called the weight of the stone. You may hear your skip tell you to throw Top 12 weight or Back 4 weigh.