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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 15:53 GMT
Ask Anna - curling special
BBC Sport journalist Anna Thompson
Hi, I'm Anna Thompson and I'm reporting from the Winter Olympics for the BBC Sport website.

I've been following the big stories at the Games and doing my best to find answers to all your questions.

With Britain on the verge of a historic bronze medal in the men's curling, many of you have contacted me with queries about this compelling sport.

David Murdoch's team lost their semi-final clash against Finland but have a chance to leave Turin with some precious metal when they take on USA on Friday at 1200 GMT.

So this instalment of Ask Anna is completely devoted to curling.

If there is anything else you'd like to know more about, an event, news story or issue you think I should follow up, or you have a question about the host venues, then do let me know.

My latest answers are below.

Thanks - and enjoy the Games,

Anna - with a little help from Great Britain curler Lynn Cameron!

Q: I would like to know what the piece of equipment just above the bottom of the "mop" is called. Can you help?
Peter Steele, Surrey

A: I think you are talking about the buttons. These are called rock watchers and can tell the curler how quickly or slowly the stone is initially going when it is released.

Q: What does sweeping the stone in curling actually do?
Andrew, Northants

A: Sweeping stops the stone from slowing down so quickly so it makes it go further and it makes it go straighter as well.

Q: I have noticed the competitors in curling sliding on the ice without skates. Do they have special soles on their shoes or are they naturally gliding?
Paul Evison, Doncaster


What do curling players put on their feet to allow them to slide or "skate"?
Patsy Tooley, near Pewsey, Wilts

A: Curling shoes are made of leather. One shoe has a slippery sole that allows the player to slide during delivery and the other has a rubber sole for traction. Once the curler has delivered a stone, a rubber cover is put over the slippery sole.

Q: Surely in curling it would be fairer for a team that loses a score on its own end to also give up the last stone. It seems ridiculous that Britain's men win a point with one end to go due to the Finn's mistake but that he keeps the last stone. Can you cast any light on this?
Phill Arrowsmith, Wirral


How is it decided who has the last stone in curling work? It seemed in the semi-final that GB never had the last stone, which appeared to give a significant advantage to the Finnish team.
Carole, Leicester, UK

A: The rules state the winner of an end delivers the first stone in the next end, meaning the loser will deliver the hammer (the final stone) in the next end.

In the men's semi-final, Great Britain were 3-2 down after eight ends and thought it was better to pull it back to 3-3 with one end to go and hand the hammer to Finland rather than run the risk of going 4-2 down but with the hammer. It did not quite pay off for GB!

Q: How much does a curling stone weigh and what are they made of?
Petter Somalski, Russia

A: Each stone is made of pure granite and is highly polished. The granite tends to come from Ailsa Craig, an uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, or Wales.

Stones are a standard size and shape with a maximum weight of 19.96kg and a circumference of 91.44cm.

Q: I've noticed a clock ticking down in the curling. What happens if a team runs out of time?
John Thompson, Lancashire

A: Each team has 73 minutes of playing time and one minute between each end. There is a break of seven minutes after end five. If they run out of time, I'm afraid they forfeit the game.

Q: I've noticed there is a little LED light on the curling stones. What is that for?
Sandi Petersen, Sweden

A: The curler has to release the stone before the second red line (the nearer hog line). A sensor in the ice and the stone can detect if the curler fails to release the stone on time and a red light will flash on the stone. The stone will be removed from play.

Q: I've heard the GB curling teams have sports psychologists. What benefit do they have?
Elaine Simpson, Nottingham

A: Sports psychologists are relatively new but were used by the British teams in Nagano, Salt Lake City and here in Turin.

They teach concentration techniques, as well coping strategies for when things go wrong, and motivation exercises.

Q: Do curlers have their own brooms like snooker players have their own cues?
Paul Flynn, Hampshire

A: Yes they do. Lynn Cameron says she favours pads on the bottom of her broom, which need to be replaced frequently during competitions. Broom handles last for ages and cost between 40 and 200.

Q: What happens if an athlete touches the stone in play by accident with his foot or broom?
Lucy Jameson, Wales

A: When this happens it is called a burned stone and the stone is forfeited.


GB curlers aim for bronze finale
23 Feb 06 |  Winter Olympics

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