The USA versus the UK (a.k.a. Scotland)
This Thursday, the United States of America celebrates the 237th anniversary of its independence from Great Britain. That got us thinking: how has the United States done against Great Britain in curling over the years?
First off, when we say "Great Britain", we mostly mean Scotland. Curling is a much bigger deal in Scotland than in England, so the teams you see representing "Great Britain" at the Olympics are really just Scotland's teams. Outside of the Olympics, Scotland and England (and also Wales and Northern Ireland) could field separate teams. But at almost all World Championships, only Scotland is represented. (It appears the last time England had their own team at the Worlds was in 1992.) So, really, this is the United States versus Scotland, more so than the United States versus Great Britain.
There are actually all kinds of "World Championships" in curling. You're likely most familiar with the quadrennial Olympic men's and women's tournaments, and perhaps also the annual men's and women's World Championships. But there are also the Junior World Championships, the Senior World Championships, the Wheelchair Curling World Championships (yes, really), and others. But for our purposes here, we're only going to look at the so-called "major" events - men's and women's World Championships since 1990*, and the Olympics following the reintroduction of curling as a medal sport in 1998. (* - We chose 1990 fairly arbitrarily, based on how much effort we felt like putting into this.)
At first glance, you may think that Great Britain/Scotland will easily have the upper hand on the USA. Scotland is the birthplace of curling, after all (circa 16th century), and they've won many more World Championships than we have, including this year on the women's side. Scotland has long been a force to be reckoned with on the world curling scene, pretty much ever since the game was invented, probably. But that said, we've actually had a decent amount of success against the Scots. Based on our research, here are the combined results of all head-to-head matchups between the United States and Great Britain/Scotland in major competitions:
(Disclaimer - our source for much of this data was Wikipedia. As it turns out, Wikipedia is a surprisingly handy place to find results from past curling World Championships. See?)
- In men's World Championships since 1990, the score is Great Britain 17, United States 12. (As in, out of 29 head-to-head matchups, they won 17, and we won 12.)
- In women's World Championships since 1990, the score is Great Britain 17, United States 10.
- In the Olympics, men and women combined, the score is United States 5, Great Britain 4.
So, yes, Great Britain/Scotland does have the upper hand...but not by too much, especially considering that the sport was, you know, created there. But, we do have a slight advantage in the Olympics. And in fact, when Pete Fenson's boys won the bronze medal in the 2006 Torino Olympics, the team they beat to win the bronze was...Great Britain. U-S-A!
Well, anyway, this is all in good fun, because unlike 237 years ago, the USA and the UK are good friends now.
Enjoy your holiday weekend! Especially those of you fortunate enough to be curling this weekend.