Unique Sports Advent Calendar – December 11: Curling

Writing this from the loungeroom at my house, where I’m currently watching the Melbourne Renegades cruise to a loss against the Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL.

Sorry for my absence of a post yesterday, as well as the terrible joke I inflicted on you. To make it up to you all, here’s my post for today: “chess on ice”, curling. (Yes, people actually call it that. I’m as surprised as you are.)

History

Curling was invented in medieval Scotland, with evidence of it in the records of an abbey in Renfrewshire from February 1541. The Kilsyth Curling Club was formed in 1716, and claims to be the oldest continually operating curling club in the world. They built a curling pond at Colzium, the earliest recorded.

The word curling appeared in print in Perth in 1620 (Scottish Perth, not Australian Perth), despite the game also being known as “the roaring game” because of the noise the stones make while travelling. (It’s still called that in Scotland and areas with a large Scottish diaspora, such as southern New Zealand.)

Originally, the curling stones were flat-bottomed river stones, making it a game relying largely on luck, but weavers in East Ayrshire began using the weights for looms, with a detachable handle custom made for the purpose.

Curling was eventually taken to Canada by Scottish immigrants, where it would find t’s spiritual home. The Royal Montreal Curling Club is the oldest still existing sporting club in North America, being founded in 1807.

The first world championship, the Scotch Cup, was held in 1959, and was won by Canada, who would win twelve of the first fourteen (they’ve won 35 out of 58 in total). A women’s tournament was held in 1979 for the first time, and Canada is the top team (15 out of 38 titles).

Curling was held at the 1924 Olympics, won by Great Britain, and was retroactively declared as an official sport in February 2006. It has been contested at the Olympics five times since, since 1998, with the men’s gold medals won by Switzerland, Norway, and Canada three times, and the women’s won by Canada, Great Britain, Sweden twice, and Canada again.

How to Play

You need three teammates, a curling stone, and brooms to sweep. Play on a curling sheet (that’s what it’s called) like this:

Curling flip..png

The stone is made of granite, must weigh between 38 and 44 pounds, be a maximum of 36 inches in circumference and a minimum of 4.5 inches in height. Only the running surface is in contact with the ice.

There are four members on the ice. The skip stands behind the ring, and communicates tactics with his team. The thrower throws from the hack, and the two who aren’t throwing or skipping use their curling brooms to sweep along the stone with the goal of getting it as close to the centre of the ring as possible.

Each team throws eight stones in an end. At the end of the end, the team that has the closest stone to the centre of the ring scores one point for each stone that is closer than their opponent’s closest. The highest score after eight or ten ends wins, but teams can concede.

Who’s on Top?

The 2016 World Men’s Curling Championships were held in Basel, Switzerland, from April 2-10. Canada, skipped by Kevin Koe, beat a Denmark under the skippering of Rasmus Stjerne 5-3 in the final.

2016 World Men’s Curling Championships – Top 5

  1. Canada
  2. Denmark
  3. United States
  4. Japan
  5. Norway

The women’s tournament had been held a few weeks earlier in Sasketchawan, Canada. Binia Feltscher was the skip for a Swiss team that won 9-6 in the final.

2016 World Women’s Curling Championships – Top 5

  1. Switzerland
  2. Japan
  3. Russia
  4. Canada
  5. Scotland

In addition, the World Curling Federation maintains rankings for men and women. (Points in brackets).

WCF World Ranking – Men’s Top 5

  1. Canada (962)
  2. Sweden (824)
  3. Norway (691)
  4. Scotland/Great Britain (608)
  5. Denmark (492)

WCF World Ranking – Women’s Top 5

  1. Switzerland (900)
  2. Canada (884)
  3. Sweden (660)
  4. Scotland/Great Britain (637)
  5. Russia (618)

Australia

The Australian Curling Federation joined the WCF in 1986, and have a men’s and women’s team, ranked 23rd and 28th in the world respectively. Go to their website here: http://www.curling.org.au/

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