In the sport of curling, the skip is the captain of a team. The skip determines strategy, and holds the broom in the house (target area) to indicate where a teammate at the other end of the curling sheet (playing area) should aim the stone. The skip usually throws the last two stones in the fourth position, but may play in any other position.
It is conventional to identify a team by the name of the skip.
Overall, the skip leads the team and provides strategic direction. The skip calls shots teammates to play, through verbal direction and physical gestures. In many cases, skips communicate the planned trajectory of the shot by tapping their broom on the ice, and motion to other stones in the playing area if those are involved in the planned shot. The skip usually determines the required weight, turn, and line of the stone, and holds the broom for the throwing player to aim at.
As each stone is delivered, the skip calls the line of the shot and communicates with the sweepers as the stone travels down the sheet. The skip gauges the stone's path and calls to the sweepers to sweep to maintain the stone's path. In most cases, the skip, playing the fourth stones, must be able to deliver these last stones comfortably—a difficult task in that the last stones are usually the most crucial to the end. As the person throwing last stones, the skip must also have a good repertoire of shots and the ability to execute many types of shots at will.
As the game progresses, the skip must assess different aspects of the game, such as timing of the rocks and characteristics of the curling sheet—and use these to choose the best shots and tactics. The skip should be able to read the ice and call the game accordingly, taking into consideration the ice conditions. Moreover, the skip must understand the playing style and strengths of each player on his or her team. As captain of the team, the skip uses knowledge of the teammates to call shots according to their abilities and orients the team's strategy towards its strengths. The skip must also observe the opposition's gameplay and pinpoint their strengths and weakness to shape the team's strategy to put the opposition at the least advantage.
- The winner of the inaugural Brier was a serendipitous team of four skips.
- While skips are more commonly fourths, they have also been leads (e.g. Margaretha Sigfridsson), seconds (e.g. Peter de Cruz), and thirds (e.g. Randy Ferbey).
- At the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier, the inaugural Team Canada struggled to a 2-3 start. In a rather unusual switcheroo, they reordered their lineup with a new skip, and ended up winning the championship.
- For the 2018–19 season, Kerri Einarson formed a new team of all former skips. They would end up winning three consecutive Scotties Tournament of Hearts championships (2020, 2021 & 2022).
- "Absentee skips" have occurred at various level of the sport. Here are some notable examples:
- Ryan Horne (May 11, 2021). "Inspiring performances mark memorable campaign in Calgary bubble". The Sports Network.
Can we talk for a second about skipper over here?
- Vancouver 2010 Olympics - Men's Curling Full Gold Medal Match - CAN v NOR. Olympic Broadcasting Services. Event occurs at 1:13:57. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13.
- PyeongChang 2018 Replays - USA vs. SWE - Men's Curling - Full Gold Medal Match. Olympic Channel. Event occurs at 1:25:28. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
- "House Call: Don't Skip Out on Skipping". Curling Canada. January 28, 2015.
"The Rules of Curling and Rules of Competition" (PDF) (2020 ed.). World Curling Federation.
C2(m): For the purpose of identification to the media and to the public, teams are referred to by the name under which their Association/Federation competes, and by the name of the skip.
- CurlTech. "The Skip". The Curling Manual.
- Weeks, Bob. "Curling For Dummies Cheat Sheet".
- Weeks 2006, p. 69
- "House Call: Skipping to Victory". Canadian Curling Association. 28 April 2011.
- Weeks 2006, p. 72
- Weeks 2006, p. 73
- Weeks, Bob (2008). Curling, Etcetera: A Whole Bunch of Stuff About the Roaring Game. ISBN 978-0470156131. p. 120:
the only one able to make the trip was the skip, so he selected three other skips to join him.
- Don Landry (March 3, 2015). "Switcheroo: Struggling Team Canada flips skip, vice at the Brier". Yahoo Sports.
- Spencer, Donna (9 October 2018). "Canadian women's rink proving 4 skips as good — or better — than 1". CBC Sports. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
Four skips on one curling team, how is that going to work?
- Jonathan Brazeau (November 7, 2019). "Gushue, Roth stay unbeaten to qualify for Tour Challenge playoffs". Sportsnet.
Roth is away on maternity leave and third Tabitha Peterson has moved up to take the reins this week.
- Jonathan Brazeau (April 23, 2019). "Muirhead off to perfect start with Team Hasselborg at Champions Cup". Sportsnet.
Team Anna Hasselborg [...and] Team Allison Flaxey kicked off [...] with neither Hasselborg nor Flaxey on the ice.