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1924 curling medals count: IOC

Last Updated: Wed Feb 8 13:23:16 EST 2006
CBC Sports
Members of the 1924 British team are now considered the first Olympic curling champions. (Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee has decided that curling made its official Olympic debut in 1924, not in 1998.

An IOC official confirmed the ruling to The Curling News on Tuesday.

"Curling was part of the official programme at the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924, and the IOC is pleased to have been able to confirm that," IOC Director of Communications Giselle Davies told The Curling News. "With competitions starting for Torino 2006 in just a few days time, we are looking forward to new additions to the history books."

The IOC made the ruling to settle an ongoing debate over whether the 1924 curling competition was an official Olympic event.

The decision means that the gold medals won in Nagano by Canada's Sandra Schmirler and Switzerland's Patrick Huerlimann are no longer the first in Olympic curling history.

Instead, Great Britain can now claim the title of first Olympic curling champion for its victory in the three-team tournament in Chamonix, France, where the competition was held outdoors. Sweden and France took the silver and bronze, repectively.

Canadian Curling Association CEO Dave Parkes brushed off suggestions that Schmirler's gold medal has lost some of its lustre.

"We're talking about different eras of the sport, and very different competitions," Parkes told The Curling News. "There are no concerns of a tarnished legacy."

Curling was as a demonstration sport at the 1928 and 1932 Winter Olympics. Following a lengthy absence, it returned as a demonstration event at the 1988 Calgary Games and appeared again in 1994. Curling was added to the official Olympic programme for the 1998 Nagano Games.

The 2006 Olympic curling competition kicks off on Feb. 13 with men's and women's draws in Pinerolo, Italy.

Brad Gushue and Shannon Kleibrink will try for Canada's first Olympic curling gold medals since Schmirler's victory in 1998.

with files from The Curling News