As Great Britain get set to take on Canada at curling for the gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, here's our quick guide to what the flip is actually going off on screen.

So, curling. I’ve seen it on the telly, and it looks like a mismatch of bowls and darts...

Actually, it’s much closer to bowls in terms of rules. But we can see why you’d think there was a dart element to it, with a massive target they etch on to the ice.

So the target isn’t actually worth points?   

Not exactly. It’s used more as a marker: you get points depending on how close you are to the middle. So, it's basically the same as bowls, but instead of aiming for a ‘jack’ (the smaller target ball) you’re going for a big bullseye.

Right… so why’s it called curling then? Surely it should just be called ice bowls or something?

You’re probably right. Curling does make it sound like it’s a half-hearted weight-lifting event. It’s called curling because of how the ‘rocks’ curl on the ice. Apparently.

Sure. So it looks pretty easy then…

Looking and being are too very different things. As a sport it’s a bazilion times more technical and strategic than you’d think, so much so that it’s often referred to as ‘chess on ice’. Every single move is well thought out in order to block your opponents or give yourself a clearer line.

So is that what all the sweeping’s about?

Pretty much. By sweeping in front of the rock as it slides down the ice (known as the hog line), you can reduce friction and speed or slow down its journey, allowing it to pick up more momentum or have a gentler impact on other stones.

Cool. And how long does it go for?

You generally play for 10 rounds, with eight throws per team in each round. So it can go on for quite a while, but don’t let that put you off. Once it gets going, its like watching the swinging watch of a hypnotist and is probably the most soothing sport on telly.

If you say so… Now, how about that sexy GIF?

We were waiting for you to ask. Here's Ashley Sky on a catwalk.



Great Britain will be taking on Canada for the gold at 1.30pm today.