Curling has been dubbed the "Roarin' Game" because of the noise made by a granite stone as it travels across the ice. Curling's actual beginnings are unknown, although it is commonly considered to be one of the world's oldest team sports.
Paintings by Pieter Bruegel (1530-1569), a 16th century Flemish artist, depicted a pastime comparable to curling being played on frozen ponds. When John McQuhin, a notary in Paisley, Scotland, documented a challenge between John Sclater, a monk in Paisley Abbey, and Gavin Hamilton, a representative of the Abbot, in his protocol book in 1540, it was the first written evidence in Latin. According to the account, Sclater flung a stone three times along the ice and declared that he was ready for the agreed-upon competition.
What is evident, however, is that what may have begun as a fun way to pass the time during a harsh Northern European winter by tossing stones across ice has evolved into a popular modern sport with its own world championships that draw supporters and enormous television audiences.
In the beginning, curling was played on frozen lochs and ponds. In certain areas, the game is still played outside when the weather permits, but all national and international competitive curling competitions now take place in indoor rinks with carefully controlled ice conditions and temperatures.
The first recognised curling clubs were created in Scotland, and the game was exported throughout the 19th century to wherever Scots lived in cold areas around the world, most notably in Canada, the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and New Zealand.
The first Rules were drafted in Scotland, and the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, which was founded in Edinburgh in 1838 and became the sport's governing body, formally approved them as the "Rules in Curling." Following a demonstration of curling on the ballroom floor of Scone Palace near Perth by the Earl of Mansfield during a visit by Queen Victoria four years later, the Queen was so taken with the game that she gave permission for the name of the Club to be changed to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1843.
International curling competitions were held in Europe and North America in the nineteenth century, but no recognised international competition for men's teams took place until the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The International Olympic Committee retroactively acknowledged Great Britain's victory over Sweden and France as curling's Olympic debut in 2006, and medals were awarded.
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Curling was featured again in 1932 during the 1932 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, although this time as a demonstration sport. In a two-country competition in which each nation fielded four men's teams, Canada triumphed against the United States.
After another 25 years, a meeting was organised in Edinburgh in 1957 to discuss the development of a worldwide organisation that would be required to apply for Olympic medal status. There was no evidence of advancement, but two years later, in 1959, Scotland and Canada marked a watershed moment by founding the Scotch Cup series, which pitted their national men's curling champions against each other.
Other countries became interested, and the Scotch Cup was expanded to include the United States (1961), Sweden (1962), Norway, Switzerland (both 1964), France (1966), and Germany (1967). The results from 1959 through 1967 are now part of the men's world championship curling history.
The popularity of the Scotch Cup series prompted a second attempt to establish a global administration in March 1965. The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (Scotland) held a meeting in Perth, Scotland, where six countries – Scotland, Canada, the United States, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland – agreed to form an international committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, which would be known as the International Curling Federation.
A draught constitution for the International Curling Federation was discussed by seven countries in March 1966 in Vancouver, Canada – France was added to the initial six – and the Federation was declared to be created on April 1, 1966. Despite being present at these sessions, the United States chose to participate primarily as an observer and did not become a member of the International Curling Federation until 1967.
In March 1967, in Perth, the constitution was accepted, and a set of regulations for international competition was proposed. These regulations were adopted during the Federation's annual conference in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada, in 1968, however they are subject to change and review each year.
In 1968, the Air Canada Silver Broom succeeded the Scotch Cup as the World Curling Championship, and it was sanctioned as such. The World Junior Men's Curling Championship was established in 1975, followed by the Ladies' Curling Championship in 1979, and the World Junior Ladies' Curling Championship in 1988. In 1989, the four competitions were merged into two, the World Curling Championships and the World Junior Curling Championships, which were held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Markham, Ontario, Canada.
The Federation was declared an independent entity and authorised as the world's regulatory body for curling in 1982, while the Royal Caledonian Curling Club was recognised as the 'Mother Club of Curling.'
The Federation's name was changed to the World Curling Federation in 1990.
Curling was a demonstration sport for women's and men's teams at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary and Albertville, respectively.
The International Olympic Committee gave formal medal status to women's and men's curling on July 21, 1992, at its session in Barcelona, Spain, with an option for inclusion in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. The Organising Committee of the Nagano Olympic Winter Games officially agreed to include curling in the schedule of the XVIII Olympic Winter Games in 1998 during a meeting of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board held in Lausanne on the 22nd and 23rd of June 1993. In Nagano, there were eight women's and men's teams, which was extended to ten from the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City 2002 onwards.
A revised Constitution was accepted at the Federation's Semi-Annual General Assembly in Leukerbad, Switzerland, in December 1993. Changes to the managerial structure were part of this. Following the election of the Executive Board at the Annual General Assembly in Oberstdorf, Germany, in April 1994, the altered structure became effective.
Employees of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club were responsible for the administration of the International Curling Federation and the World Curling Federation from 1966 until 1994. In 1994, the World Curling Federation established its own headquarters and administration in Edinburgh, Scotland, following the approval of the amended Constitution.
A completely re-written Constitution was accepted at the Federation's Semi-Annual General Assembly in Grindelwald, Switzerland, in December 1995, in order to comply with Swiss legislation following the Federation's registration in that country.
The World Curling Federation Secretariat relocated from Edinburgh to Perth, Scotland in May 2000.
Curling in a wheelchair was first debuted at the World Handi Ski Championships in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in 2000. The only countries competing were Switzerland and Sweden. Discussions on the format of wheelchair curling took place during a seminar held at the time, and it was decided that the game should be played as similar to the conventional game as feasible.
The inaugural International Wheelchair Curling Bonspiel was held in Sursee, Switzerland the following year. This served as a warm-up for the first World Wheelchair Curling Championship, which was held in January 2002 and won by the home team.
Wheelchair curling for mixed gender teams received official medal status from the International Paralympic Committee in March 2002. In 2006, the Torino Paralympic Winter Games organising committee agreed to add wheelchair curling in their programme.
In 2002, the World Senior Curling Championships for ladies and men were added to the international calendar.
The World Men's and Women's Championships were once again separated in 2005, and were contested in various locations of the globe. The European Youth Olympic Festival also added a curling competition for junior women and men between the ages of 15 and 18. Curling was also included in the 2012 Youth Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
The first World Women's Curling Championship was hosted in Aomori, Japan, in 2007, and the first World Men's Curling Championship was held in Beijing, China, in 2014. These events recognised the sport's rise throughout Asia.
Vierumaaki, Finland hosted the first World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in 2008. Mixed doubles curling differs from traditional curling in that teams are made up of two players, one female and the other male. The discipline was accepted as an extra event for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, where eight teams fought for medals, in South Korea, in 2015.
The International Paralympic Committee also declared in 2015 that the wheelchair curling competition in PyeongChang in 2018 would be increased from ten to twelve teams. For the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the mixed doubles competition was expanded from eight to ten couples.
'Curling: Pure Emotion,' a sculpture by curler Bjorn Zyrd, was also inaugurated by President Kate Caithness at the Olympic Museum Park in Lausanne, Switzerland, during the 2014-2015 season. This was the first time the museum had an artefact from an Olympic Winter sport.
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