Curling—Scotland’s Other Gift To The Sporting World


I have been enjoying the coverage of Olympic Curling. It is an unusual sport, with players sliding heavy granite stones down an icy track toward a circular target. Points are scored for stones closest to the center of the “house” (the target) at the conclusion of each round, which is known as an “end.” What makes the game so fascinating to me is the presence of the sweepers—the two team members who use brooms to alter the surface of the ice and thus, the movement of the stone. The more I watch it, the more I appreciate the strategy and teamwork involved.

Curling has its origins in medieval Scotland. A stone inscribed with the date 1511 was uncovered when a pond was drained in Dunblane, Scotland, and the first written reference dates to 1541. Kilsyth Curling Club was formed in 1716, and is still in existence today.

Like golf, curling traveled across the Atlantic with Scottish immigrants.The Royal Montreal Curling Club in Canad was established in 1807. In the United States, the first curling club was established in Orchard Lake, Michigan. That club used hickory blocks instead of stones. The Detroit Curling Club was established in 1840; the current Detroit Curling Club was established in 1885.

Michigan, then, not only is the home of golf in America (at least according to Gary Player), it also is the home of curling in the United States.

Curling has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since 1998. Its first appearance, however, was in the 1924 games. The gold medal in those games was won by Great Britain and Ireland. (Golf, which makes its Olympic reappearance in two years, was played in the 1900 and 1904 games).

I am seriously thinking about taking some curling lessons next fall. Then I can play one Scottish sport all summer and another all winter long.

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