has been described as the “Roarin’ Game”, with the “roar”
coming from the noise of a granite stone as it travels over the ice.
The exact origins of the game, however, are unclear, but curling is
widely believed to be one of the world’s oldest team sports.
Paintings by a 16th
Century Flemish Artist, Pieter Bruegel (1530-1569) portrayed an
activity similar to curling being played on frozen ponds. The first
written evidence appeared in Latin, when in 1540, John McQuhin, a
notary in Paisley, Scotland, recorded in his protocol book a
challenge between John Sclater, a monk in Paisley Abbey and Gavin
Hamilton, a representative of the Abbot. The report indicated that
Sclater threw a stone along the ice three times and asserted that he
was ready for the agreed contest.
What is clear, however,
is that what may have started as an enjoyable pastime of throwing
stones over ice during a harsh Northern European winter, has evolved
into a popular modern sport with its own World Championships
attracting fans and large television audiences.
Curling in its early
days was played on frozen lochs and ponds. A pastime still enjoyed in
some countries when weather permits, but all National and
International competitive curling competitions now take place in
indoor rinks with the condition of the ice carefully
It is also clear that the first
recognized Curling Clubs were formed in Scotland, and during the 19th
Century the game was “exported” wherever Scots settled around the
world in cold climates, most notably at that time in Canada, USA,
Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.
The first Rules were
drawn up in Scotland, and they were formally adopted as the “Rules
in Curling” by the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, which was formed
in Edinburgh in 1838 and became the sport’s governing body. Four
years later, 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, the Queen was so fascinated by the game that
in 1843 she gave permission for the Club’s name to be changed to
the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC).
It is recorded that
international curling Events were
staged in the 19th century in Europe and North America, but it was
not until the first Olympic
Winter Games at Chamonix in 1924 that any form of official
International competition took place for men’s teams. Great Britain
defeated Sweden and France in what was retroactively accepted in 2006
by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as Curling’s Olympic
debut, with medals awarded.
In 1932 at Lake Placid,
curling again was listed but this time as a demonstration sport at
the Winter Olympics, and Canada was a winner over the United States
in a two-country competition in which each country entered four Men’s
Another 25 years passed
before a meeting was held in Edinburgh in 1957 to consider the
formation of an international organization which would be required in
order to apply for Olympic medal status. No progress was documented,
but two years later, in 1959, Scotland and Canada reached a major
milestone by launching the Scotch Cup series between their national
men's curling champions.
Interest in other
countries was generated, and the USA (1961), Sweden (1962), Norway
and Switzerland (1964), France (1966) and Germany (1967) expanded the
Scotch Cup entry. The 1959-67 results now are recognized in the
curling history of the men's world championship.
The success of the
Scotch Cup series led to another attempt, in March 1965, to create a
global administration. The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (Scotland)
convened a meeting in Perth, Scotland, and six countries (Scotland,
Canada, USA, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland) agreed to a proposal to
form an international committee of the Royal Club, to be called the
International Curling Federation (ICF).
The following year, in
March, 1966, in Vancouver, Canada, a draft constitution for the ICF
was considered by seven countries (France was added to the original
six), and the Federation was declared to be established as of April
1, 1966. The constitution was approved in March 1967, at Perth, and a
set of rules for international competition was proposed. At the
Federation's annual meeting in 1968 in Pointe Claire, Quebec, these
rules were adopted, but are subject to amendment and revision each
Also in 1968, the Air
Canada Silver Broom replaced the Scotch Cup, and it was sanctioned as
the World Curling Championship. In 1975, the Federation endorsed the
World Junior Men's Curling Championship; in 1979 the Ladies’
Curling Championship; and in 1988, the World Junior Ladies’ Curling
Championship. The four Events were
combined into two in 1989 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Markham,
Ontario, and became known as the World Curling Championships (WCC)
and the World
Junior Curling Championships (WJCC).
The Constitution had a
significant adjustment in 1982, when the Federation was declared an
independent entity and approved as the governing body for curling in
the world, while the Royal Caledonian Curling Club was acknowledged
as the Mother Club of Curling.
In 1991, the name of the
Federation was changed to the World Curling Federation (WCF).
Curling was a
demonstration sport for a second and third time at the Olympic
Winter Games of 1988 (Calgary) and 1992 (Albertville)
for Teams of
men and women.
On 21 July 1992, at its session in Barcelona,
Spain, the International Olympic Committee granted official medal
status to Men’s and Women’s Curling, to take effect no later than
Winter Games of 2002, with an option for 1998 at Nagano,
During the meeting of
the IOC Executive Board held June 22-23, 1993 in Lausanne, the
Organizing Committee of the Nagano Olympic
Winter Games (NAOC) officially agreed to include Curling in
the programme of the XVIII Olympic
Winter Games in 1998. Eight Teams for
men and women participated in Nagano, and this was increased to ten
from the Salt Lake City Olympic
Winter Games of 2002 onwards.
At the Semi-Annual
General Assembly of the Federation in Leukerbad, Switzerland, in
December 1993, a revised Constitution was adopted. This included
changes to the Management Structure. The revised structure became
operational following the election of the Executive Board at the
Annual General Assembly in Oberstdorf, Germany, in April 1994.
From 1966 to 1994, the
administration of the ICF and WCF was the responsibility of employees
of the RCCC. Following the adoption of the revised Constitution, the
WCF set up its own Head Office and Secretariat in Edinburgh, Scotland
At the Semi-Annual
General Assembly of the Federation in Grindelwald, Switzerland in
December 1995, a completely re-written Constitution was adopted in
order to comply with Swiss law following the Federation’s
registration in that country.
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
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,
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.