Olympic History: Curling is a sport played on ice in which players deliver a large stone towards a bulls-eye-type target. The game is played by two teams of four players each. One player delivers the stone by hand, while the other three players run in front of it, sweeping the ice to clear it and allow it a clear path to the target. The ice on which the game is played is called a rink, and the same name is used for the teams. Teams score points if their stones are closer to the center of the target, called the tee, than the opposing team’s stones. The game is basically shuffleboard on ice. The stones weigh approximately 42 lbs. (19 kg.) and are made of granite, with the best ones harvested from a granite formation on Ailsa Craig, a small uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, owned by the 8th Marquess of Ailsa (the island is now for sale for $2.4 million [US]).
Curling was developed in Scotland as early as the 16th century, although some evidence exists that it developed in the Low Countries of Europe at about the same time. The first known curling club was the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, formed in 1843 and originally called the Grand Caledonian Curling Club. During the 19th century, curling spread to many nations of Europe, as well as the United States, New Zealand, and especially, Canada. In Canada, curling became very popular in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1932, 1988, and 1992 Olympic Winter Games. Until recently, it was also considered to have been demonstrated at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, but more recent evidence makes it apparent that the sport was on the full Olympic program and we give that 1924 sport full Olympic status below. In 1936 and 1964, German curling (Eisschießen) was also a demonstration sport at the Olympic Winter Games. Curling returned to the Olympic Winter program in 1998 at Nagano, with a tournament for both men and women. World Championships have been contested for men since 1959 and for women since 1979.
The International Curling Federation (ICF) was created after a meeting in March 1965, organized by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. Six nations attended the meeting in Perth, Scotland; Canada, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The ICF was formed the next year with seven founding nations, with France added to the above six. The name of the organization was changed to the World Curling Federation in 1991.
The WCF has 53 nations affiliated with it as of November 2013. This makes it the smallest IF of any IOC-recognized sport, winter or summer. The nations currently affiliated with the WCF are as follows: Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Wales. All are IOC Members except for Kosovo, and the British countries of England, Scotland and Wales have separate national memberships.