Wheelchair curling: How it works

CanWest News Service
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Virtually all the rules of able-bodied curling apply to the wheelchair game, with one exception - there's no sweeping.

Curlers deliver their rocks from the hog line while seated in their chairs, which must remain stationary, with a teammate helping to brace the chair.

Vancouver -

Virtually all the rules of able-bodied curling apply to the wheelchair game, with one exception - there's no sweeping.

Curlers deliver their rocks from the hog line while seated in their chairs, which must remain stationary, with a teammate helping to brace the chair.

The curlers have the option of releasing their rocks by hand or using a delivery stick. Almost all choose the stick.

The only gender stipulation is that a team must be mixed, with three men and two women - counting the fifth player - the most common arrangement. The wheelchair version of the game consists of eight ends.

During each end, each four-person team throws eight rocks - two per person, 16 in total.

Points are awarded as in regular curling, one for every rock in the house that's closer to the centre of the ring than any rival rock. The team with the most points at the end of eight ends wins.

The other difference spectators will notice is the number of rocks in play. Wheelchair curling is still very much a draw game, but recently, as teams develop the ability to throw bigger weight, the takeout game is starting to become a factor.

"You didn't use to see any blank ends in wheelchair curling," said Canadian curler Chris Sobkowicz, who won gold with Team Canada skip Jim Armstrong at last year's world championships. "But with more takeouts now you'll see teams go for the blank now and then."

Wheelchair curlers aren't often able to match the precision of their elite able-bodied counterparts.

And perhaps that's not such a bad thing. On near-perfect ice, the Kevin Martins and Glenn Howards of the curling world are reduced to perhaps one or two mistakes per contest.

"The real difference is in the strategies," national coach Joe Rea explained. "In the able-bodied game, top teams shoot about 80-85 per cent. In wheelchair curling it's more like 65-70 per cent. Without the sweeping, there's simply more misses. The key is to position the rocks so that our shots have as low a difficulty rating as possible."

Organizations: Team Canada

Geographic location: Vancouver

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