Curling returned to the Winter Games in 1998 and has been thoroughly dominated by the Canadians. The best way to describe curling is "Canadian shuffleboard", but that also assumes you know how shuffleboard is played. Perhaps it's more like bocce on ice. You'd think the Italians would be better if it was bocce on ice, but since there are offical judges, it's a lot harder for Italians to cheat with the "two sticks" method of measurement. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you didn't grow up in a big Italian family.
Points are scored in curling by getting your stones closer to the center of the scoring are (called the "house") than the other team. Like in baseball, there game is split up into innings (called "Ends"). Only one team may score per end, but a team may accumulate multiple points in an end if they have more than one stone closer to the center than their opponents closest stone. The team with the most points at the end of the ten "ends" is the winner. The curling tournament features ten teams that will all play each other in a round-robin format in the preliminary round. The top four teams will advance to head-to-head semi-finals with the winners advancing to the Gold Medal Game and the losers playing for Bronze.
Canada has dominated, winning Gold in the Men's tournament in 2006 and 2010 and has reached the final each year. On the Women's side, Canada has been on the medal stand every year with 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronzes. Sweden has won the last two Golds in the Women's tournament. The Swiss have also been good, picking up 3 medals on the Men's side and 2 on the Women's side.
The United States won Bronze in the Men's tournament in 2006 but finished dead last in Vancouver. The Men's team finished 8th aat the recent World Championships and the Women's team finished 5th.
It's hard to bet against Canada in either the Men's or Women's competition. Sweden and Switzerland will give them a run for their money. If you're looking for a sleeper team, keep an eye on Great Britain, who qualified on the strength of Scotland's international record but now gets to add on curlers from around the British Isles.