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Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games: A History of Curling at the Games

Yahoo Contributor Network

One of the breakout events of the 2010 Winter Olympics was curling.

Long a curiosity to casual Olympic followers, the sport that has been described as "chess on ice" grew rapidly in popularity during the Winter Games in Vancouver. A great deal of strategy is vital for success in curling, as two teams try to get their eight allotted stones closest to the center of the house, which is marked on the ice by a large circular target.

Surprisingly, for a sport played on ice, curling has not always been a fixture at the Winter Games. This is a brief history of curling at the Olympics:

The Beginning: Curling was a part of the first Winter Games in 1924, and Great Britain took the inaugural gold medal in the event.

A Long Disappearance: Curling was contested just once at the Winter Games between 1928 and 1984, but only as a demonstration sport, meaning no medals were on the line.

On The Outside Looking In: Curling was a demonstration sport at both the 1988 and 1992 Winter Games, raising the chances that the sport would become a medal event once again.

Return As A Medal Event: Curling finally returned to the Games in 1998 after a lengthy absence. Men's and women's tournaments were contested, with Switzerland and Canada winning the gold in their respective events.

A Pair Of Thrillers In Salt Lake City: Men's gold medal winner Norway and women's gold medal winner Great Britain each scored points in the final end of the game to achieve Olympic glory in 2002.

No Longer The Bridesmaid: After settling for silver at the two previous Winter Games, the Canadian men's curling team soundly defeated Finland 10-4 in the 2006 final to capture the nation's first gold medal in the event.

Sweden Wins A Nail-Biter: After Sweden and Switzerland finished the regulation 10 ends tied at six in the 2006 women's final, the Swedes were able to capture a point in the 11th end. That earned the nation its first gold medal in women's curling.

Canadian Domination Continues: The Canadian men's squad rolled to the gold medal with an unblemished 11-0 record on its home soil in Vancouver at the 2010 Winter Games.

Winning When It Counts: Canada's women's team soundly defeated Sweden 6-2 in their first meeting at the 2010 Games, but the Swedes got the last laugh and their second straight gold medal after coming out victorious against Canada, 7-6 in the final.

A Select Club: Historically, Canada and Scandinavian squads have dominated Olympic curling. The bronze medal won by the U.S. men's team in 2006 marked the first time a team other than Canada or one from Europe medaled in the event.

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Olympics for over 25 years.

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