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66OLYMPIC REVIEW At the Vancouver Games, 20 teams – ten each for men and women – will compete in the 6,000- capacity Vancouver Olympic Centre. A game of curling consists of ten ' ends' and is played between two teams of four players each. The aim is to score as many points as possible, with each team alternating turns in sliding a 19.1kg stone – made of a rare granite quarried in Scotland – towards a series of concentric circles. During an end each team must deliver eight stones – two stones per person. The order of players must be presented to officials prior to the game. The first player is known as the " lead". The " second", then the " third" follow before the " skip" – effectively the team captain – concludes the end. After each player's releases, fellow team members equipped with brooms and special curling shoes sweep the ' pebbled' ice to control the stone's direction, known as its " curl", and its speed. Scores are determined when each end is concluded and all 16 stones have been delivered. The team with the most points at the conclusion of ten ends is the winner. Canada, as hosts of the 2010 Games, gain automatic entry for both a men's and women's team. The remaining 18 teams gain entry thanks to qualifying points won in the World Curling Championships from 2007- 2009. BelowPlayers sweep the ice to control their team- mate's stone during an ' end' FORMAT

OLYMPIC REVIEW67 VENUEFORMGUIDE As well as being set in a lively Vancouver community that includes the Queen Elizabeth Park and views of the nearby mountains, the Vancouver Olympic Centre will certainly boast a lasting legacy. Post Games, the venue will be transformed into a multi- purpose community recreation centre with facilities for an ice hockey rink, gymnasium, library and six to eight sheets of curling ice. But it is during the Games that the Olympic Centre will hope to leave its mark. With capacity for 6,000 spectators, the curling competition in Vancouver should be a noisy and entertaining affair. During the Games, Aboriginal art by First Nations, Inuit and Metis artists from across Canada will be installed at the venue as part of the Vancouver 2010 Venues Aboriginal Arts Programme. Over the past three editions of the Winter Games Canada has won an impressive haul of six medals – two of each colour – from the men's and women's tournaments. As hosts in 2010, the " Canucks" will be looking to put on a show the world of curling won't forget. Canada, however, is just one of several leading nations in the sport, in which strategy and mental toughness are key ingredients to success. Competition from traditional rivals in northern Europe – Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark – and neighbours, the United States, as well as China, will be fierce. At the 2006 Games in Turin, Canada won the men's tournament ahead of Finland and the United States while Sweden, skippered by the emblematic Anette Norberg, won the women's tournament ahead of Switzerland and Canada. Going into 2009, the form book is being largely respected. At the Continental Cup of Curling, a prestigious end- of- year tournament between North America and the rest of the world, Team World claimed victory in a nail- biting finish despite Thomas Ulsrud of Norway losing to Canada's Kevin Martin in the final competition of men's skins. Olympic men's champions Canada currently sit at the top of the world rankings on 766 points ahead of Scotland- Great Britain on 558. The United States sit in third position on 491 points with Norway in fourth ( 487) and Germany fifth ( 432). Bronze medallists in Turin, the Canadian women's team also tops the World Curling Federation rankings. Sweden are second with Switzerland third, the United States fourth and Denmark fifth. At European level, the Swedish women's team – led by Norberg – has been the pacesetter over the past decade. However, at last year's Championships Switzerland's Mirjam Ott – the only curler in the world with two Olympic medals, both silver – relieved Sweden of their continental crown by defeating Norberg. Scotland, led by cattle farmer turned full- time curler David Murdoch, is the men's European champions. Below leftHost nation Canada currently tops both the men's and women's world rankings Below Sweden's Anette Norberg SPORTS PROFILES