There's a significant Olympic curling anniversary tomorrow. Ten years ago on February 15, official gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to Olympic curling athletes for the first time. Then International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch presented gold medals to the Swiss men's team, skipped by Patrick Huerlimann. Canada's Mike Harris earned silver while Norway's Eigil Ramsfjell took the bronze. The women's champions were skipped by Saskatchewan's Sandra Schmirler, who died of cancer less than two years later. Denmark's Helena Black-Lavrsen won her country's first-ever Olympic Winter Games medal, a silver, while Sweden's Elisabet Gustafson and her team won the bronze.
"The World Curling Federation pays tribute to the members of the NAOC organizing committee, the volunteers and to the town of Karuizawa, hosts of the 1998 Olympic curling event," said Les Harrison, WCF president, in a WCF press release, the full text of which can be found here.
Every year since the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Karuizawa has hosted an International Bonspiel, an invitational tournament organized as part of the annual Karuizawa Winter Festival. Sponsored in part by the Japan Curling Association, this year's tournament began on February 13, featuring sixteen teams from seven countries, details here.
I visited Karuizawa when the venue hosted the World Junior Championship as the Olympic test event in 1997. What a most enjoyable week that was! Amongst other things it left me with an appreciation of taiko, the traditional Japanese drums! Here's a taster of what modern taiko is all about.
The venue for the Olympic curling championship in 1998.
Taiko at Karuizawa, 1997. Pics by Bob.
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