Winter Olympic Games: Curling
Curling has had a very interesting past as far as its inclusion in the Winter Olympic Games is concerned. Before diving into this history, it is important to first understand what it is all about. In other words, how it this ancient game is played. First off, the game’s surface is an ice sheet which is enclosed in a structure known as a rink. The sheet’s approximate measurement is 138 feet in length by a width of approximately 14 feet. The “sheet” has many markings on it but the most important one is called the “house” which is used for scoring. The “house” is made of three circles with the smallest one at the center. The game is played using a polished granite stone by two opposing teams made up of four people each. Each player is given two stones to play making a total of sixteen stones. The players attempt to slide the stones using a curling broom towards the “house”. The weight of the stone as specified by the World Curling Federation is within the range of 38 to 44 pounds. The stones make a rumbling sound as they slide across the ice thus earning the game its nickname, “the roaring game.”
Curling was included in the first ever Winter Olympic Games that were held in the town of Chamonix, France in 1924. Interestingly, the sport was not officially recognized at the time so the results of those games were not officially acknowledged by the Olympics committee until the year 2006. It was then included during the 1932 winter games that were held at Lake Placid but only as a demonstration sport. A demonstration sport is one which is played for its promotion only, mostly during Olympics. After this inclusion, curling endured a long absence from the Olympics until the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary and again in 1992 for the Albertville games. Again, it was listed as a demonstration sport for both times.
Things would look up for curling in 1992 when the International Olympics Committee Executive Board voted for the formal recognition of the sport during a meeting in Barcelona. The board voted for the inclusion of both men and women categories. The mixed doubles category was not included because the sport was deemed not developed enough. The implementation of this vote was supposed to take place by the time the 2002 winter games were held with the option for its inclusion in the 1998 games held at Nagano, Japan. A later vote would ensure that curling was officially recognized as an Olympic sport in the year 1998.
Canada made history during the 1998 games by winning the first ever women’s gold in curling after defeating Denmark. Switzerland defeated Canada in the men’s category in the same year to win the first ever men’s gold in curling.
The sport has developed enough since then for it to have a mixed doubles category in the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea.