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A sport—often known as ‘*bowls on ice’—played outdoors or on purpose-built ice rinks, based on the propulsion of stones by hand, aimed at a target called a ‘tee’ that is located at the centre of an area known as a ‘house’. Visual evidence in the form of 16th-century paintings in Holland testify to its longevity, but its strongest and most sustained profile was in Scotland, where archaeological evidence of its existence dates to the 16th century (1511). In 1795 the Duddingston Curling Society was founded in Edinburgh; the Grand Caledonian Curling Club advanced the sport in 1838, the prefix ‘Royal’ displacing ‘Grand’ after an exhibition in front of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort in 1843. That organization formalized the rules, and became the international governing body of the sport. Scots had introduced the sport in Canada, and the Royal Montreal Curling Club was founded in 1807. It grew rapidly in Canada, and was also introduced in the USA (Michigan) and Switzerland (St Moritz); its popularity further spread in various European countries (such as Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy) in the 20th century. The first purpose-built indoor arena for the sport is said to have been constructed at an ice rink in Southport, Lancashire, England, in 1879.

Curling featured early in the Olympics, as a demonstration sport at the first Winter Games and for several succeeding Games, consolidated in the Olympic programme at the 1998 Games, and retrospectively recognized as a full, official Olympic event from those first Games in 1924. The sport is a combination of theatricality and intuitive science, in that members of a team can precede the launched stone, employing a brush or broom to sweep away ice or inhibiting debris from the path of the missile. The sport is strong in its own distinctive argot; the captain of a team, for example, is called the skip of a rink. Canada has dominated the sport at the highest performance level, though Scottish women won gold at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics, achieving wide acclamation for their enthusiasm and the truly amateur basis on which the team had prepared and competed.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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