Medal events: 2
Dates: 10–21 February
After being played at the first edition of the Olympic Winter Games, in 1924, curling did not appear on the Olympic programme again until 1998, when the men’s and women’s titles were won by Switzerland and Canada respectively. It has been played at each edition of the Games since then, with Canada winning the men’s title in 2006 and 2010, and Sweden’s women – led by skip Anette Norberg – also topping the podium in both 2006 and 2010.
The sport originated on frozen ponds in medieval Scotland, with today’s competitors sending a large 19.96kg granite stone down a 45-metre marked sheet of ice as their teammates sweep their path. The object of sweeping is to create a thin film of moisture between the stone and the ice to act as a lubricant. This makes the stone travel faster and makes it less likely to deviate from a straight line or “curl”.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
With Anette Norberg now retired, Sweden will be looking to new skip Margaretha Sigfridsson to complete a hat-trick of Olympic titles. The 37-year-old already had four world championship silver medals to her name and will face stiff competition from reigning world champions Great Britain, skipped by Eve Muirhead, and the Canadian team, skipped by Jennifer Jones.
In the men’s event, defending champions Canada will be skipped by Brad Jacobs after he beat Olympic gold medallist John Morris’s team in the Canadian trials, while Swedish skip Niklas Edin will be looking to add an Olympic title to the world crown he won in 2013.
The Canadian men’s and women’s teams have won medals at each Games since the sport returned to the Olympic programme in 1998, with the men claiming the last two Olympic titles. Four years ago, on home soil in Vancouver, they were led to gold by skip Kevin Martin, who had previously won silver in 2002, making him the most successful male athlete in Olympic curling history, alongside Norway’s Torger Nergaard, who won gold in 2002 and silver in 2010.
While the Canadian women won gold in 1998, the event has since been dominated by Sweden, who won Olympic gold in 2006 and 2010. With two gold medals, Swedes Anette Norberg, Anna Svärd, Eva Lund and Cathrine Lindahl are the most successful women in the Winter Games.