Curling Culture

Competition teams are normally named after the skip, for example, Team Martin after skip Kevin Martin. Amateur league players can (and do) creatively name their teams, but when in competition (a bonspiel) the official team will have a standard name. Top curling championships are typically played by all-male or all-female teams. The game is known as mixed curling when a team consists of two men and two women. In the absence of world championship or Olympic mixed curling events, national championships (of which the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship is the most prominent) are the highest-level mixed curling competitions. Curling tournaments may use the Schenkel system for determining the participants in matches. Curling is played in many countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom (especially Scotland), the United States, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland and Japan, all of which compete in the world championships. Curling is particularly popular in Canada. Improvements in ice making and changes in the rules to increase scoring and promote complex strategy have increased the already high popularity of the sport in Canada, and large television audiences watch annual curling telecasts, especially the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (the national championship for women), the Tim Hortons Brier (the national championship for men), and the women's and men's world championships. Despite the Canadian province of Manitoba's small population (ranked 5th of 10 Canadian provinces), Manitoban teams have won the Brier more times than teams from any other province. The Tournament of Hearts and the Brier are contested by provincial and territorial champions, and the world championships by national champions. Curling is the provincial sport of Saskatchewan. From there Ernie Richardson and his family team dominated Canadian and international curling during the late 1950s and early 1960s and have been considered to be the best male curlers of all time.[35] Sandra Schmirler led her team to the first ever gold medal in women's curling in the 1998 Winter Olympics. When she died two years later from cancer, over 15,000 people attended her funeral, and it was broadcast on national television.