From the Sochi 2014 Official Site:
Curling originated in Scotland in the sixteenth century where it was first played in the winter on frozen ponds, marshes and lakes. The Stirling Stone, engraved with the date 1511, is considered to be the oldest curling stone in the world. The earliest reports of curling came from Paisley Abbey, Scotland, in 1541. In the 1600s, stones with handles were introduced in all shapes and sizes. Rounded stones, similar to those currently used, appeared in the 19th century.
Curling first appeared at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix but only in 2006 was it formally accepted by the International Olympic Committee.
Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1932, 1988 and 1992 Games and has been an official Olympic sport since 1998.
Curling in Russia
Curling first arrived in Russia at the end of the 19th century as a leisure pursuit for foreign diplomats and businessmen. Modern curling was re-established in Russia in 1991 at the Lesgaft University of Physical Education, Sports and Health in Saint-Petersburg.
Curling is a game played between two teams composed of four players each. The game is played on ice, and members of both teams deliver a 19.96 kg stone towards a circular target area, called the «house» alternating with an opponent. The objective is to get the stone closer to the center of the house than any stone of the opposition.
One game consists of ten «ends». During each end, each team steers eight stones — two stones per person, alternating with the opponent. Team members deliver the stones in a set order presented to officials before the game. The first player is known as the lead. He or she is followed by the second, then the third (also known as the vice-skip) and finally the skip, or team leader.
After all 16 stones have been delivered the score is determined. Only one team can score per end. A team scores one point for each of its own stones located in or touching the house that is closer to the center of the house than any of the opposition’s stones. The team with the most points after 10 ends is the winner. If the score is tied after the 10th end, an «extra-end» period is added. Extra ends are played until one side wins.
There are two medal events in curling: men’s and women’s team competition.
- A broom is used to sweep the ice surface in front of the stone. Sweeping creates a film of water between the stone and the ice, which reduces friction, thereby reducing the stone’s deceleration and straightening its trajectory or «curl». Curling brooms can have fabric, hog hair, or horsehair heads. There are also corn/straw brooms, although they are used rarely nowadays.
- Special curling shoes have different soles. One has an extremely slippery sole made from Teflon, plastic or steel and is used on the sliding foot. The other is made from rubber and provides much needed traction on the ice.
- Curling Stones are traditionally produced in Scotland and made of extremely rare and dense granite. Each stone weighs 19.96 kg, is polished and is circular in shape.
Each playing surface is 45.72 m long and not more than 5 m wide, with a target — or house — at either end.
For some reason, I think I’ll go with Denmark, although if Norway wins, that’s fine, too.