The game is thought to have been invented in late medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrew, in February 1541.
In the early history of curling, the rocks were simply flat-bottomed river stones which were sometimes notched or shape; the thrower had little control over the rock, and relied more on luck than skill to win, unlike today's reliance on skill and strategy. Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries as the climate provided good ice conditions every winter.
Curling has been an official sport in the Winter Olympic Games since the 1998 Winter Olympics. In February 2006, the International Olympic Committee retroactively decided that the curling competition from the 1924 Winter Olympics would be considered official Olympic events and no longer be considered demonstration events. Thus, the first Olympic medals in curling, which at the time was played outside, were awarded for the 1924 Winter Games with the gold medal won by Great Britain and Ireland, two silver medals by Sweden and the bronze by France.
The first curling club in the United States was organized in 1831 only 30 miles from Detroit at Orchard Lake, Michigan. Called the 'Orchard Lake Curling Club', the club used hickory block 'stones'. A Detroit Curling Club was started back in 1840 when Michigan only had a population of 212,000 and had only been in the Union for three years. About this time an organization called the 'Thistle Club' was founded and, curling being a winter sport, was played when the ice was right on the Detroit River at the foot of Joseph Campau, on the bay, and at the old Recreation Park. These clubs became the 'Granite Club' and in 1885 the present Detroit Curling Club was organized.
A competitive game usually consists of ten ends. Recreational games are more commonly only eight or even six ends. An end consists of each player from both teams throwing two rocks with the players on each side alternating shots, for a total of sixteen rocks. If the teams are tied at the completion of ten ends an extra end is played to break the tie. If the match is still tied after the extra end, play continues for as many ends as may be required to break the tie. The winner is the team with the highest score after all ends have been completed
In international competition each side is given 73 minutes to complete all of their throws. Each team is also allowed two 60 second timeouts per ten end game. If extra ends are required each team is allowed 10 minutes of playing time to complete their throws and one added 60 second timeout for each extra end.
When throwing the rock, the player must release it before reaching the near hogline (players usually slide while releasing their shots) and it must cross the far hogline; otherwise the rock is removed from play
While the first three players throw their rocks, the skip remains at the far end of the ice to guide the players. While the skip is throwing, the third takes this role. Thus, each time a rock is thrown, there is one player throwing the rock, and another player at the far end.
The two remaining players, equipped with brooms, follow the rock and assist in guiding its trajectory by sweeping the ice before the rock. Sweeping causes the rock to decrease its curl but travel a greater distance. The sweeping players combine directions from the skip and/or the thrower with their own judgement for the weight of the rock, as well as extremely precise timing, to...