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Canada wins gold, U.S. bronze
Men's team brings home first curling medal for U.S.
By Brianna White, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

U.S. men's curling team
U.S. Skip Fenson guides sweepers during men's curling bronze medal match against Britain at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Pinerolo, Italy February 24, 2006.
(Photo: Andy Clark/Reuters)
Friday, February 24—In the bronze-medal game it was the U.S. team of Shawn Rojeski, Pete Fenson, John Shuster, and Joe Polo against the British team of Euam Byers, Warwick Smith, Ewan MacDonald, and David Murdoch.

The U.S. took the lead with 3 points in the third round. They added two more in the sixth. The team from Great Britain tried to rally in the seventh, when they scored 3 points and then another in the ninth round. The U.S. won the game, and the first U.S. curling medal ever, by scoring 2 points in the 10th and final round. The final score was U.S. 8-6.

Winning the bronze broke a long loosing streak for the U.S., which hasn't placed in curling competition since the 1993 world championships. Curling has been an Olympic sport for only three Winter Games. The U.S. was shut out of the 1998 Nagano Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

"Everybody was not expecting us to do well here [in Torino]," said Rojeski. "But we were pretty confident coming in that we could be contenders. We were definitely OK with coming in here and not being the No. 1 favorites."

In the gold-medal game it was the Canadian team of Jamie Korab, Russ Howard, Mark Nichols, and Brad Gushue against the team of Teemu Salo, Kalle Kiisknen, Wille Makela, and Markku Uusipaavacniemi from Finland.

The Canadians took control in the sixth round when they scored 6 points and increased their lead to 10 to 3. Scoring 6 points scored in an end, which is like an inning in baseball, may be an Olympic record.

Finland scored 1 point in the eighth round to make it 10 to 4, and then conceded the game to Canada, giving them their first Olympic curling gold medal.

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Swedish curling team
Sweden's Catherine Lindahl, left, and Anna Svaerd, right, move in to sweep after Anette Norberg released the stone as they compete against Switzerland for the gold medal in curling during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Pinerolo, Italy on Thursday, February 23, 2006.
(Photo: Morry Gash/APWide World)
Sweden Sweeps Gold
Women's curling gold-medal game goes into an extra inning.
By Natalie Honodel, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Thursday, February 23—The women's curling gold medal game was one that kept viewers on their toes!

A tied score pushed the game into an extra end, or inning. The whole game was going back and forth between Sweden and Switzerland. Both teams were playing cautiously, balancing out the points. Sweden would get one point, then two, and Switzerland would get three. In the 10th and final end, Switzerland came from behind to score two points and tie the game 6-6.

It was the very last stone that determined the winner. In the extra end, Sweden called a time-out and discussed what they would do with their last stone. This would be a crucial decision. One mistake could cost them the gold medal.

With their decision made all Sweden could do was wait and see what would happen.

The decision was a smart one. Anette Norberg hit both of Switzerland's stones out of the target, which is a four-foot circle on the ice. The very last stone of this Olympics proved to be a very powerful one, winning gold for Sweden 7-6.

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Cassie Johnson
Team USA skip Cassie Johnson delivers a stone against Team Canada at the World Women's Curling Championship in Paisley, Scotland, on Wednesday March 23, 2005.
(Photo: Andrew Vaughan/AP Wide World)
See You on the Curling Court!
By Becky Wenger, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Curling is a centuries old sport with a historic background—and a set of peculiar rules and tools.

I had the great experience to learn about curling out on the ice with the U.S. women's Olympic Curling Team. I met the curlers at a media summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in October. The summit was held by the U.S. Olympic Committee to introduce the media to the athletes most likely to go to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in February.

Let me explain what you may not know about the unusual sport of curling.

First, curling is not about your hair! Curling is a winter sport played on an ice rink. Two teams of four players each compete against each other from opposite ends of the ice.

One player "shoots" the curling stone, which is a 42-pound rounded hunk of polished granite, down the ice. Shooting is actually pushing the stone (which is really heavy) down the ice toward a target. You push it from a squatting position, using a handle on top of the stone. The target is like a bull's-eye on the ice. This is called "shooting the stone."

If the stone starts slowing down too soon, or veering off its path to the target, two curlers from the team "sweep" into action. These team members are actually called sweepers and for a very good reason. They use broom-like instruments to rub the ice in front of the moving stone to try and change its path or speed it up.

When you sweep the ice in front of the stone, it creates friction that causes the ice to melt. That causes the stone to hydroplane in the melted water so that it keeps moving. (Hydroplaning means to skim the surface of the water.)

The final curler watches how the stone is moving and yells to the sweepers when and where to sweep. The object is to get the stone as close to the target as possible.

Curling sounds easier than it really is. Curlers have many strategies that they use, from how to shoot the stone to how to sweep to how to direct. One very important strategy of curling is knowing the condition of the ice. Some ice is fast and slippery, while other ice is slow and sticky. Knowing how the ice affects the stone is very important.

Curling takes a lot of upper body strength and physical training.

"We do weight training every other day and for upper body we do a lot of bicep curls and a lot of situps, because sweeping pumps from the core," said 20-year-old Jessica Schultz, a member of the U.S. women's Olympic Curling Team. "We work on our pectorals and abs and our lower back especially, and then do a lot of squats and lunges."

How does a person get started in curling?

"I became interested in curling from my neighbor in Alaska," Jessica said. "She just wanted us to come out and try one time, so my family and I all went down to the curling club and started curling."

Another U.S. women's team member, Maureen Brunt, learned at a very young age. The 23-year-old from Wisconsin has been curling for 17 years. "My parents curled and they took me out there when I was 6 and I didn't stop after that," she said.

So do you know enough about curling to give it a try? I am definitely going to get involved and play a few games. It sounds like a wonderful sport, and the athletes are all awesome. See you on the curling court !

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CURLING
A team sport, curling consists of sliding a heavy stone across the ice and stopping it as close to the center of a target, called a house, as possible. Sweepers control their stone's destination by brushing a path in front of it with brooms made out of horse hair and hog hair.

The centuries old sport has only recently became an Olympic sport. This is the third time curlers will take part in the Winter Olympic Games

Who to Watch
The U.S. men's team will be led by skip Pete Fenson. The U.S. women's team will be led by skip Cassie Johnson.

The top international competitors are the teams from Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway.

Schedule
Curling events will take place every day from February 13th through the 24th.

The women's gold medal game will be played on February 23. The men's gold medal game will be played on the February 24.


Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.