December 23, 2022 | at the FISU Winter University Games
The Saranac Lake Civic Center will host the world’s best college curlers when the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid begin on January 12, 2023. However, it may be an image that highlights the sport’s origins.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Flemish painter in the 16th centuryp In the 1930s he painted “Hunters in the Snow”, which appears to depict a curling-like game played on ponds. This image matches the evidence of a game played in the Low Countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg during this era. Subsequently written in Latin in 1540, Scottish notary John McQuhin recorded a duel between John Sclater and Gavin Hamilton in which stones were thrown onto the ice. Even the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote about curling in two poems from the 1780s entitled “The Vision” and “The Elegy of Samson’s Dam”.
Despite its apparent origin elsewhere, Scotland was where the game really took off. Clubs were formed around Scotland in the 18th centuryp century and up to the 19thp. The Grand Caledonian Curling Club was founded in 1838 in Edinburgh as the national club as well as the world governing body for the sport, while the first rules of the game were also developed in Scotland. Even Queen Victoria fell so in love with curling after seeing a show that she granted royal patronage in 1843, changing its name to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.
Other nations have taken up the sport, especially in the northern climes to which Scots have migrated, such as Canada, the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand. In Canada, the Royal Montreal Curling Club was founded in 1807 and claims to be the oldest active athletics club in North America. From those beginnings, Canadians embraced the game strongly and saw the national championships, first held in 1927, become the world’s largest curling event at the time.
Internationally, curling was included in the program of the first Winter Olympic Games, held in Chamonix, France in 1924. Although held as a demonstration sport 3 times after Chamonix, it did not return to the official Olympic program until 1998 in Nagano, Japan. The first world championship was held in 1959 when the national champions of Scotland and Canada met.
At the FISU World University Games, curling appeared as an exhibition event in 2003 in Tarvisio, Italy. In 2007, when the FISU Games were also held in Italy in Turin, curling was a compulsory sport and has been on the competition program ever since. At the 2023 FISU Games in Lake Placid, 10 teams will participate in the men’s and women’s tournaments. Sweden, Korea, Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Canada will have teams competing in both tournaments, while Brazil, Czech Republic and Norway will have teams in the men’s tournament and Australia, China and Spain will play in the women’s event.
The opening draw for both tournaments will take place on Friday January 13, with the bronze medal matches a week later on January 20 and the finals on Saturday January 21. More information on curling at the FISU World University Games in Lake Placid 2023 can be found here here.
The following references and articles were used in the creation of this story:
Curling History – World Curling FederationWorld Curling Federation; Curling | History, rules and facts | BritannicaEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.; The Origins of Curling – From Medieval Scotland to the Winter Olympics | HistoryExtraStory Extra, Emma Mason