As an outsider one may be baffled by terms like: lazy handles, wicky wacky woo, broomstacking and hoggers. However, to the curling junkie these just mean a good night is to be had.
So, how does one go about curling? First, you dress warm and get ready for a couple of hours in 40 degree weather. Second, you take a stone that weights approximately 42 pounds and try to strategically push it to ‘the house’. The house is a 12 foot circle at the other end of the ice (similar to a bulls-eye) and is where teams score points. For a team to score, the throwers stone has to be accurate for momentum is all that carries it forward once it leaves their hand.
As the stone slides down the ice there are two guys with brooms (sweepers) that, if needed, sweep the ice in front of the stone (being careful not to touch it). This process of sweeping ever so slightly melts the top of the ice allowing for a slight altering of direction and distance. The goal of the sweepers (as well as the thrower) is to score the most points; however, this is not always done by getting directly in the center of ‘the house’. Instead, sometimes they try to guard ‘the house’ by setting a stone immediately outside or by guarding one of theirs that is already in ‘the house.’ Another strategy is to try and knock the opponents’ stone out even if it means they do not score themselves.
The game is somewhat like chess where you must think four moves ahead and know what your opponent will do. This process goes on for 10 ends (similar to innings) and the team with the most points (with the stones closest to the center circle) wins. Like many sports there are often lead changes and in the end the games are usually really close.
The game (or sport) of curling is something that must be tried to truly appreciate. When speaking with Patrick McDonald from the Olympic Paraplegic Team he stated, “Curling is for everyone; you just come out and enjoy yourself.” Bob Kuhl, a member of the Wine Country Curling Club, also mentioned that, “anyone can do it; you just need to get out and try.”
Well, now you can. Starting next week Skatetown Ice Arena in Roseville will be featuring curling classes on Monday night. For $20 you can receive a basic lesson in curling and then go out onto the ice and learn hands-on. You will experience the weight of the stones, the balance requirements and the excitement as you watch your stone make its way down the ice.
Clinic attendees should wear loose fitting pants, warm clothes, warm hat and leather gloves and clean, close-toed athletic rubber soled shoes such as tennis shoes. Brooms, sliders, rocks and instruction will be provided by the Wine Country Curling Club. Starting in May and ending in July, weekly Curling Pick-Up Games will be held on Monday nights from 5-7:15pm.
When/Where: Mondays, April 4 through April 25 from 5-7:15pm; Skatetown Ice Arena, 1009 Orlando Avenue, Roseville CA
Registration: Space is limited. Register online at www.skatetown.biz or in person
Marc McLaughlin is a contributing writer and photographer for the Sacramento Press.