The Magic of Curling

Curling. The sport no one knows about. Or very few people know about, anyway. And if you know about curling it’s because you play it or you know someone who does. So, what is curling?

Curlingnoun 

  • a game played on ice, especially in Scotland and Canada, in which large round flat stones are slid across the surface towards a mark. Members of a team use brooms to sweep the surface of the ice in the path of the stone to control its speed and direction.  (from Webster’s)
  • a sport involving ice, brooms, and originally a rock. It is chiefly played in Canada. Unlike hockey, it is not taken seriously in the United States. Many suspect that it is a byproduct of both the cold Northern climate and the Canadian propensity for beer.  (from Urban Dictionary)
  • Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud, center, keeps his eye on his shot as Christoffer Svae, right, and Havard Vad Petersson sweep during an morning draw against Scotland at the mens world curling championships in Victoria, British Columbia, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) ORG XMIT: JOHV117
    Norway Curling Team,2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) ORG XMIT: JOHV117

    a sport where people are encouraged to throw rocks at houses and walk the same 150 feet 24 times while sweeping ice in the cold; sometimes while wearing flamboyant pants. This is considered fun. (from me)

 

If that wasn’t enough to give you a good idea of what curling is you can watch this very informational (and funny) 2-minute video from World Curling TV.

Curling season upon us. Once again on Tuesday nights, and the occasional long weekend, I am a curling widow. Tuesday nights we have a quick bite of dinner and then Mark sashays out the door with his gear in his backpack and his broom slung over his shoulder. The kids and I wish him good luck and then he’s off to throw some rocks at houses.

It started almost 20 years ago. We were in Vancouver for our friends’, Phil and Marcella’s, wedding.  Mark and Alan were just starting to flick through the TV channels when I went into the bathroom to put on my make-up and the next thing I knew they were hovering over the edge of the sofa yelling, “SWEEP!!” at the top of their lungs.  A hotel in any other country would have chucked us out, but this being Canada the staff were probably too busy yelling “SWEEP!!” as well to notice additional noise.

Then one day, after we’d moved to DC, Mark read an advert in the Post for a try out day at the Potomac Curling Club. And that was it. He was lost into the world of curling. First it was Pizza League on Sundays. Then it was Tuesdays and Sundays. Then there were the tournaments. Including the one in Sedrun that was outside.

Look at that curling form! Like a champ!

And, lo, the clouds did break and the team did score 4 points in one end.

He’s even won a trophy!

Mark curling trophy

E even joined the kids’ league and can’t wait to get back to it when we move back to DC.  In the meantime, he watches curling and occasionally gets to go to the curling arena (yes, it’s only for curling) to throw some stones with Mark.

The 6 year-old has begun demanding to go along.

Curling is magical. It’s easy to love curling – doing and watching. It does actually take finesse and a fair bit of strategy to play well, but it’s so easy that anyone can play along.

It is totally inclusive. Men and women and children all participate. Don’t worry if you think you’ll just fall over when you try to squat down and throw the rock. They have these neat little bracket things you can hold on to for balance.  You can’t squat down at all in the lunge position to throw the rock? They have a long stick you can use so you don’t even have to bend over. Can’t walk? Don’t fret! You can play while sitting in a wheelchair.  They even have whole wheelchair leagues!

Curling doesn’t require full-time commitment. Unlike basketball or gymnastics you don’t have to make curling your full-time job to compete at the top and Olympic levels. Almost all curlers have other careers – from architects and actuaries to zoo keepers.

And the people are some of the nicest people you ever want to meet. They are kind and generous. More than anything they want you to do well in curling. And the winners buy the losers a beer at the end.

Curling can take you all over the world. The European Championships just took place in Denmark! Mark’s home club even had a delegation from Japan a few years ago.

A few weeks ago Mark giddily came home and told me that the World Championships would be played right here in Basel in April. He is beyond happy. We are going to get a pass or two to attend all the matches we can and he is inviting some of his curling buddies to stay with us.

I am going to have to go along.

Now here I sit, in front of my computer, streaming curling tournaments and spouting phrases like, “Wow! She really bolted out of the hack!” and “The skip is going to have to try to draw in with the hammer to prevent a steal.”

And I almost understand what I’m saying.

Come get addicted with me!


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