TORINO 2006: A Stone’s Throw Away
Curling was on the sports programme of the very first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France, back in 1924. Curling became a demonstration sport at the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, USA, in 1932. That year, only teams from the USA and Canada competed. Curling did not return to the Olympic Games until 1988 in Calgary, Canada, where curling was a demonstration sport again, as it was in Albertville, France, in 1992. Curling became an official Olympic sport again in Nagano, Japan, in 1998, four years earlier than initially expected.
The Olympic curling tournament in 1998 was played in Karuizawa, a town close to Nagano, with eight men’s and eight women’s teams taking part. The participating nations had qualified for the Olympic Games using a points system from the World Championships in 1995, 1996 and 1997. The same points system has been used to qualify nations for the Olympic Games in both 2002 and 2006.
Original Competition Format
The eight men’s and women’s teams start the tournament by playing a round-robin (each team plays the other teams within their group once) in their respective competitions. The four best teams from each competition qualify for the semi-finals. The winner of the round-robin plays the team ranked fourth in one semi-final. The teams finishing second and third play in the other semi-final. All games in the Olympic curling tournament are played in 10 ends. There are extra ends if the score after 10 ends is tied.
Since the World Championships for men and women consist of 10 teams, the World Curling Federation asked the IOC, after the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, to also allow 10 teams at future Olympic Winter Games. The IOC accepted this proposal and, in Salt Lake City in 2002, 10 men’s and 10 women’s teams competed. The format for the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games is exactly the same as for Salt Lake City 2002, with a round-robin followed by the semi-finals and finals.
Longer Than The World Championships
In Nagano, the eight teams in the men’s and women’s competition played on four sheets of ice, allowing all the teams to play at the same time. In 2002, however, four sheets of ice were again used despite the increase in the number of teams. An Olympic curling tournament therefore takes two days longer to play than a World Championships because all the matches are televised at the Olympic Winter Games. This results in only four sheets of ice, rather than five, being available because the TV crews need the extra space between each sheet to be able to cover the matches in a satisfactory manner.
The Olympic Winter Games will run from 10 to 26 February 2006 in Turin. The Winter Games comprise seven different sports and 15 different disciplines, which will be played out in eight different competition sites. Around 2,500 athletes, 650 judges and umpires and one million spectators are expected to participate in this 20th edition of the Winter Games.
Learn more on Turin 2006
Official website of Turin 2006