With the NHL lockout, I’ve been looking for a new sport to follow this fall. Before Saturday, my knowledge of curling was as limited as most Americans. People wear funny pants, glide rocks on ice and other people sweep vigorously. Easy, right? So when I heard about South Shore’s Curling Club ‘Learn To Curl’ event, I decided to join.
After a painfully long hour and a half car ride to Bridgewater, I started making ‘Sochi 2014‘ jokes. My Curling teammates told me that I might not be ready for the Olympics in a year and a half, but I laughed. How hard could this be?
It was hard. Damn hard.
We started with some stretching and put rubber bands on our shoes as we walked out on the ice. After practicing tossing the stone a handful of times, I was already sore and out of breath. Curling involves squatting down and putting all your weight on one arm while you glide on a piece of plastic underneath the opposite foot. The stone is aimed at 10 or 2 o’clock, based on where you want the stone to land. As you release it, you curl the stone to the 12 o’clock position. Hence, curling.
But that’s only part of the process. Two of your teammates are on the sides walking along the stone. If it looks like the stone is slowing down, you sweep in front of the stone, smoothing out the pebbled ice to make the stone go farther.
The scoring is a little different from any other sport I’ve encountered. Whichever team lands closest the bullseye is the winning team. The score is determined by how many additional stones that team has near the bullseye before the opposing team’s first stone.
But the best part about Saturday’s event were the people. The instructors were excited to teach us and the other people on the teams were just as excited I was to be there. Curling is known to be a friendly sport. Before the game, we shook the hands of our opponents and wished the “Good Curling”. Even when the other team does well, you don’t get mad. “When the other team knocks out a stone of yours, you compliment their throw. Even if in the back of your head you might get angry.” Said one of the instructors.
My new team “Cool Runnings” tied in a more exciting game that the 2-2 score may imply. After our sudden death loss, I was a little bummed. That was until I found out that part of Curling’s good sportsmanship meant that the winning team is suppose to buy the losing team a beer.
As the ice rink closed shop, the Curling teams walked out into the parking lot where we had a beer and got to talk more.
Most of the people on the teams signed up for a previous ‘Learn To Curl’ event and became hooked. One instructor said “I saw Curling during the Vancouver Olympics. I turned to my husband and said ‘I’m gonna do that.’ And I’ve been here since.”
The South Shore Curling Club did offer the chance for us to join. When I told them that I’m not in a financial spot where I can join, they told me I can always come back for one game practices.
By the end of my beer, I really feel like I made a handful of new friends.
The next day, I was sorer than after running my first 5K. In fact, half a week later and my legs still hurt. Anyone who says Curling isn’t a real sport should try walking up a flight of stairs the next day. While I regret not stretching after the Curling event, I’m glad I chose to stay around and have a drink with all my new Curling friends.