Curling teams compete on both national and international level but like in most sports, international tournaments are by far more popular. Some of the most important curling tournaments include:
The World Curling Championships
They are contested by national curling teams which compete in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships but there are also senior and junior world championships. The event is held annually and is organised by the World Curling Federation. The first men’s world championship was held in 1959, while the first world championship for female national teams took place two decades later, in 1979. The mixed doubles championship was introduced only in 2008.
The European Curling Championships
As their name reveals, the European Curling Championships are competed by national curling teams from Europe. The event is held annually (usually in the first half of December) and is organised by the European Curling Federation. In addition to competing for the championship title, the national teams also compete for qualifications to the World Championships because the top eight teams automatically qualify for the event. The first European Curling Championships were held in 1975. Since 2005, European national teams also compete in mixed doubles championship.
The Continental Cup of Curling
It is an annual curling tournament which is competed between national teams from North America against the teams from other continents. Each side has six teams which compete under a unique system of pointing. The event that was held for the first time in 2001 reveals that it is inspired by the Ryder Cup golf tournament. Although it is held annually, it isn’t competed within the year of the Olympic Games.
The Pacific-Asia Curling Championships (previously known as the Pacific Curling Championships)
Competed by the national teams from China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, the tournament is at the same time also a qualifier for the World Curling Championships. The winning team automatically qualifies for the world championship, while the second-placed team receives a ticket to the world championship only if the latter is hosted by a European country or the Americas. The Pacific-Asia Curling Championships are held annually, usually in November or December.
Curling at the Olympic Games
Curling became a (Winter) Olympic sport only in 1998 but in 2002, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that the men’s curling demonstration at the 1924 Winter Olympics will be considered an official event and not demonstration. As a result, the first Olympic gold medal in curling was won by Great Britain and Ireland.