Here’s how Americans came to love Olympic curling


Here’s how Americans came to love Olympic curling originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Curling isn’t just a sport played by professionals that you only see at the Winter Olympics.

Curling has become universal. It’s translated into something recreational and we see it in every community, both in country club atmospheres and in smaller, more intimate settings in underfunded neighborhoods.

The sport began with a stone and a broom in the depths of Scotland in the 1500s. And now search ‘curling near me’ on your phone and you can find a league in your backyard to join. It’s much trendier than you think.

Kids, teens and adults are playing, from Canada to Sweden to the United States and beyond. Even professional athletes, like the former NFL Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, participate in sports. In fact, Davis is the honorary captain of Team USA and advocates for the diversification of curling for Blacks and Indigenous Peoples of Color. The USA curling team formed a diversity and inclusion committee and partnered with the New Jersey curler Debra Martin’s Icebreakers initiative to promote the inclusiveness of sport.

But how did the sport get here?

What is curling and where did it start?

Curling dates back to the 16th century in Scotland and the Netherlands. It is recorded as one of the oldest team sports in history.

“What may have started as an enjoyable pastime of throwing rocks on ice during a harsh northern European winter has developed into a popular modern sport with its own world championships, which attract fans and wide viewers,” according to the world curling federation.

But what appears to be a transition from hobby to competition for sport is actually not the only truth. Yes, it started as a pastime with no rules and turned into a global sport that is shown every four years on TV at the Winter Olympics. But the sport has also returned to its simple roots of simply being a popular recreation for people’s enjoyment, hence why it is so popular all over the world in clubs, recreational teams and community leagues. , especially in the United States.

When did curling become popular in the United States?

International men’s competition began at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. At these Games, Great Britain won a medal by beating Sweden and France, but it was not until 1998 that the organizing committee of the Nagano Winter Olympics recognized curling on the program. Olympic.

In 1932, during the Lake Placid Games, curling was only listed as a demonstration sport. Canada ended up beating the United States at those Games.

A meeting in Edinburgh was held in 1957 to form the national organization that would be needed to enable Olympic medal status, but no progress was made until 1959 when Canada and Scotland decided to start the Scotch Cup series, a competition contested between their men’s national champion teams. Other countries sparked interest in the sport and joined the cup, with the United States officially entering in 1961.

Finally, in 1967, a constitution for the International Curling Federation was approved in Perth, Scotland, and a set of rules for the sport was proposed. The committee became known as the World Curling Federation in 1990 and at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, ​​curling was granted by the International Olympic Committee to have official medal status for both men and women. In 1998 the sport made its Olympic debut and at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, curling reigned supreme and has been breaking out around the world ever since.

Why do Americans love curling?

Curling is more than just a sport for those who sweep a broom or throw a stone. There is a sense of camaraderie in a curling tournament when strategy and precision go hand in hand to win a match.

A plethora of curlers have been influenced by Winter Olympic champions and professional athletes immersing themselves in the sport.

“Watching Vernon Davis left a deep impression on me because he was an unexpected ambassador, not just a football player,” Martin said.

Team USA Curler Monica Walker believes the history of curling is the reason for its exclusivity. Often associated with golf or tennis, the sport began its predominance in more elite settings.

“From what I know of American country club culture is that it tends to be very white, masculine, upper class, and I think that really limits how the sport is presented. to the general population, Walker noted.

This helps explain why initiatives like Icebreaker and diversity advocates learned to love the sport.

Who are the Americans who practice this sport?

Davis has been addicted to curling since the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Although he is not technically competing with Team USA, he has competed in the last three Winter Olympics. As soon as the USA curling team heard about their passionate new fan, they chose to crown him honorary captain, a role he held at the 2010 Winter Games, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In a more competitive field, John Shuster, captain of the American team, has participated in four consecutive Winter Olympics (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) and will participate in the Beijing Games in 2022. He has also participated in nine World Curling Championships (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021). From humble beginnings in Duluth, Minnesota, Skip Shuster led Team USA to gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It was the first Team USA to achieve the feat.

Tabitha Peterson is another skip currently competing on Team USA. She is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a two-time women’s national champion, as well as a bronze medalist at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

But it’s not just Olympians and professional athletes. Ordinary Americans across the country — yes, those who work full time and care for their families — are also cowering.

Take Martin, for example. She and her wife began curling late in their adult lives at a club in their own hometown.

“I lived 15 minutes from the only dedicated curling club in New Jersey for 15 years and didn’t know it was there,” added Martin, who is the co-founder of the Ice Breakers program.

How many curlers are there in the United States?

According to United States Curling Association, there are 185 curling clubs across the country and approximately 23,500 curlers participate in these clubs.

Do other countries love sports as much as Americans?

Curling is a global phenomenon that only broke out in the United States after it was invented in Scotland. Therefore, yes, other countries definitely appreciate the sport.

Sweden and Canada top the list of the biggest nations in men’s and women’s curling, with Sweden ranked first in the world and Canada being the strongest nation. Canada is the most successful team in curling history. The nation is ranked first in mixed doubles (having won gold in 2018), third in men’s and fifth in women’s. Canada has received 11 Olympic medals (including six gold) and won several world championships: 36 for the men’s team, 17 for the women’s team and two for the mixed doubles.

How can I watch curling at the 2022 Winter Olympics?

The competition starts on February 2 and until February 19.

Curling will consist of three events: mixed doubles, men’s and women’s. There are nine medals in total up for grabs.

The mixed doubles will take place from February 2-8 and the men’s and women’s events from February 9-19. The semi-finals and the medal matches begin on February 17 and end on February 19.

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