10 truths: Curling

Team GB’s women have already secured a bronze at Sochi 2014 and the men go for gold later today. Here are 10 things about the sport that will help you cheer on the curlers…

Curling Stones

1) The origins of the sport are unclear but it can be traced to Scotland in the 16th century. The Dutch are considered an early adopter of curling, most likely picked up by traders visiting Scotland.

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2) The building of the Mayflower Curling Club, Halifax, on the east coast of Canada, was put to a different use in 1912. In the days after the Titanic disaster, the recovered bodies were brought to Halifax. As it was the only building large – and cold – enough in the city, the Mayflower Country Club was used as a temporary morgue.

3) Curling is known as ‘The Roaring Game’, a reference to the noise of the stone as it slides along the ice.

4) Curling appeared in the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924, but only as an exhibition sport. Only men were allowed to play and Britain took home the gold. Sweden came in second and France, third. It did not become an official event until the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.

5) The oldest known curling stone has the date 1511 on it. It is nothing more than a smoothed rock – not the professional stones used today.

6) Modern curling stones are made from two particular types of granite, found in only two places – the Scottish island of Ailsa Craig and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales.

7) John McQuhin, a notary at Paisley Abbey, penned the first written evidence for a curling game. In 1541, his account in Latin tells of a challenge between monk John Slater and Gavin Hamilton, a representative of the Abbot. He doesn’t say who won, however.

8) Before indoor ice rinks, curling competitions in Scotland took place on frozen lochs.

9) Queen Victoria was treated to a demonstration of curling by the Earl of Mansfield during a visit to Scone Palace, near Perth in Scotland, in 1842. The demonstration didn’t take place on ice, but on the ballroom floor. Victoria was amused by the sport so much that the Grand Caledonian Curling Club – the sport’s first governing body – was granted the new name of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

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10) In the 1970s, Canadian curler Paul Goswell – two-time World Junior Curling Champion – became a celebrity in the sport for his eccentric behaviour. He gained the nickname Pizza Paul after ordering a pizza to be delivered to the ice during a match. An apocryphal tale of this incident says that Pizza Paul and his team lost the match because one of their stones hit a stray olive on the ice.