The complete history of curling is unknown, but the earliest mention attributed to the sport comes from 16th century Scotland in letters between John McQuhin, a notary, and John Sclater, a monk. Other sources are paintings from artists from the Netherlands, Flanders, and later in England. Before modern technology, curling was played when weather permitted, so players would play on frozen ponds, lochs, even rivers.
Curling was formally recognized as a sport in Scotland during the 19th century. This was also where the first set of official rules for curling was written. The Grand Caledonian Curling Club was, perhaps, the catalyst that cemented curling in the public mentality. The Grand Caledonian Curling Club played for Queen Victoria in 1842, and by the following year, she had granted them permission to change the club’s name to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.
It wouldn’t be until the next century that curling would appear at the 1924 Olympics when France hosted it in Chamonix. However, it wouldn’t be accepted as curling’s debut on the world stage until 2006, when International Olympic Committee retroactively accepted it.
Curling was featured as an exhibition at the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid. Canada and the US were the only two men’s teams; Canada walked away as the victor. However, 25 years later, a convention was held in Edinburgh, Scotland to discuss the formation of an international curling organization. Although a consensus wasn’t reached at that counsel, the Scotch Cup was launched two years later. It was a significant milestone because of the partnership between Scotland and Canada for the men’s curling championship. The Scotch Cup was a huge success and created international interest. With the renewed interest in curling, a convention in Perth, Scotland hosted by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. This time, they finally reached a consensus and created the International Curling Federation. The following year, 1966, the Federation’s constitution was ratified by six countries: Scotland, Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. The United States maintained an observatory role until 1967. The Internation Curling Federation was officially founded on April 1, 1966. However, by 1990, the name of the Federation was changed to the World Curling Federation.
In 1968, the Scotch Cup was replaced by the Air Canada Silver Broom. Over the next two decades, the Federation endorsed three new divisions: the World Junior Men’s (1975), the Ladies’ (1979), and the World Junior Ladies’ (1988) Curling Championships.
Curling was once again a demonstration sport at the Calgary and Albertville Olympics, as the Olympic Committee hadn’t officially accepted it. Finally, after several committees, conventions, and discussions, the Olympic Commission declared that curling would be added as an official Olympic sport no later than 2002. In 1998, men’s and women’s curling was an official game on the world stage at Nagano, Japan. Since then, curling has been included in the Paralympics in 2006. Curling was installed in the Youth Olympics hosted in Innsbruck, Austria, six years later.
Curling has a long history and deserves more respect than it gets in popular media.
I hope I did this historic sport justice with this article. Let us know what you think in the comments below! Drop any suggestions you have for sports deep dives, too! I’ve linked the schedule for the upcoming curling matches if you want to tune in!
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