Curling is a team sport played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice. Its nickname, “The Roaring Game”, originates from the rumbling sound the 44-pound (19.96kg) granite stones make when they travel across the ice.
One of the world’s oldest team sports, curling originated in the 16th century in Scotland, where games were played during winter on frozen ponds and lochs. The earliest-known curling stones came from the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth and date from 1511. In the 1600s, stones with handles were introduced.
The first curling clubs appeared in Scotland, with the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, formed in 1838, being responsible for formulating the first official rules of the sport. The Club was renamed the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1843. The key 20th-century developments in the sport have been the standardisation of the stone, the development of the slide delivery, and the use of indoor, refrigerated ice facilities.
Men’s curling was included in the Olympic programme in 1924 at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix. It was then dropped, and later re-introduced as a demonstration sport in 1932 in Lake Placid.
Between 1936 and 1992, curling was staged at the Games as a demonstration sport: in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 and Innsbruck in 1964, under the German name of “Eisschiessen”; and in 1988 in Calgary and in 1992 in Albertville, with both men’s and women’s events.
It was in Nagano in 1998 that it officially joined the Olympic programme, with both men’s and women’s competitions.
In May 2000, the WCF Secretariat moved from Edinburgh to Perth, Scotland.
The first World Wheelchair Curling Championship was held in January 2002 and in March that year, the International Paralympic Committee granted official medal status to Wheelchair Curling for mixed gender teams. The Organizing Committee of the Torino Paralympic Winter Games 2006 agreed to include Wheelchair Curling in their programme.
Other international events introduced in 2002 included World Senior Championships for men and women, and The Continental Cup, a competition run along the same lines as golf’s Ryder Cup, with Team North America (Canada and USA) versus Europe (now Team World).
In 2003, Curling was featured on the programmes of the World University Winter Games and the Asian Winter Games for the first time.
In 2005, the World Men’s and Women’s Championships were separated once again, and held in different parts of the world. Also that year the European Youth Olympic Festival introduced a curling competition for Junior men and women between 15 and 18 years of age.
The growth of the sport in Asia was recognized with the World Women’s Championship held in Aomori, Japan, in 2007 and Gangneung, Korea, in 2009. The World Men’s Curling Championship will take place in Beijing, China in 2014.
In 2008, the first World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship was staged in Vierumäki, Finland. Mixed Doubles Curling marks a break from traditional curling, as teams are comprised of two players – one male and one female. The Championship has grown from strength to strength and is now an annual fixture on the WCF calendar.