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Sochi Mysteries: What's the green flashing light on the curling stone?

Jay Busbee
Fourth-Place Medal
Britain's Claire Hamilton, left, and Anna Sloan, right, look to the house while sweeping a delivery by Vicki Adams, center during women's curling competition against South Korea at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia
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Britain's Claire Hamilton, left, and Anna Sloan, right, look to the house while sweeping a delivery by Vicki Adams, center during women's curling competition against South Korea at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The Winter Olympics can be confusing. We're here to help. We're answering questions all Sochi long, so if you've got one, either profound or ridiculous, ask us by email. Today: curling!

What's the little green light that appears on the top of the curling stone?

Curling! The most inexplicably popular sport in Olympic history. We know we can't throw ourselves off a hundred-foot ski ramp or slide 80 mph down an icy chute face-first, but we darn sure could push a little rock down the ice, right?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Like everything else in the Olympics, curling at its highest level is a hypercomplicated technological sport, and that includes the fancy little green lights that flash during the curling stone's slide. What do they mean? It's pretty simple, actually.

First, take a look at the average curling sheet:

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Curling sheet. (Via Wikipedia.)

 Those two lines about a third of the way into the sheet go by the evocative name of "hog lines." When the player delivering the stone slides toward the target, he or she must release the stone at or before the hog line. In earlier times, referees or players from opposing teams would watch to see whether the stone crossed the hog line and would shout if a violation occurred. (Players screaming in curling? That never happens.)

Now, with the advent of technology, the light knows, and shows, all. If the player releases the stone over the hog line, the light flashes red; if all's good, the light flashes green. Easy, right?

Now, go back to training to curl for the 2018 Winter Olympics. You make this promise every four years. Time to carry through on it.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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