In 1924 at the Semaine des Sports d’Hiver, a new kind of sport took the ice. Many had never seen anything like it before - the competition that involved hurling heaving stones down a slick runway of ice was quite a sight to see. These games would become known as the first ever Winter Olympics, and the sport known as curling would become a favorite event in future winter games.
Though curling was an unknown sport at the time of those first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France, earliest records of gameplay date back several centuries. Invented in medieval Scotland, the first written records describing a rock throwing contest on ice are dated 1541. The sport was first referred to as “curling” in the year 1620, in piece of Scottish poetry. Today, curling is a growing sport, particularly in Canada and the Northern United States. Originally played on frozen lakes and ponds with flat river stones, curling as we know it has come a long way.
Curling resembles an on-ice combination of bowling and shuffleboard. The object of the game is to strategically throw the stone into the target - called the “house” - scoring more points the closer the stone lands to the house’s center - or “button.”
As the stone travels down the ice - known as the “curling sheet” - team members can alter its course by sweeping its path, effectively directing where it will land in the house for optimum scoring. Putting any amount of spin on the rock during its delivery gives it a curled trajectory, hence the name of the game.
After making its Olympic debut in 1924 as a “demonstration event,” curling became an official Olympic sport at the 1998 games in Nango, Japan. Since then, curling has grown immensely popular among athletes and spectators alike. The sport takes a great deal of strategy and precision, shifting momentum in the blink of an eye, making curling a big hit as an internationally broadcast Olympic event.
Don’t miss your favorite curling team this year at the games in Sochi! Tune in February 10th for full coverage!