The first evidence of curling was found in Scotland in the 16th century. After the fall of Quebec City in 1759, Scottish soldiers had time on their hands and melted down cannon balls to form kettle-shaped irons so they could play their favourite game on the St. Charles River. Scottish settlers are responsible for growing the sport across Canada.
Two four-member teams alternately deliver stones to target circles at the opposite end of a sheet of ice. Each curler – leads first, followed by the seconds, thirds (or vice-skips) and skips – throws two stones, each of which must be delivered (handle released) before sliding over the nearest hogline (boundary line). With the four-rock, free-guard-zone rule being used at the Olympic Winter Games, the leads cannot remove each other’s stones.
After the 16 stones have been delivered, one ‘end’ is complete. One point is scored for each stone that is closer to the centre of the target (button) than any stone belonging to the opposing team. Therefore, only one team may score in any one end. A stone must be in or touching the rings to score.
The team that scores delivers the first stone of the next end. A game consists of 10 ends with an 11th end deemed necessary when the score is tied after 10 ends.
The Olympic draw for both men and women is a balanced 10-team single round-robin format. The medal-round structure involves sudden-death playoffs involving the top four round-robin finishers – first versus fourth, second vs. third with the winners playing for gold and silver medals and the losers playing for the bronze medal.
A demonstration sport in 1924, 1932, 1988 and 1992, curling finally enjoyed medal status at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.