Curling - It Has Nothing To Do With Hair
Inspiration comes in many forms. When I first saw the funky outfits being worn by the Norwegian Curling team a couple years ago, I was inspired that curling would be a fun sport to learn.
Curling didn’t look that hard. It seemed like bocce ball or shuffleboard on ice. I can do that. And with the help of that Google thing, I found out that Curl San Diego offers beginner classes! So with a group ranging from a professor, a lawyer, a writer, and a few high school teens, we head on to the ice rink. I wonder if there are bumper guards for beginners? No. Hmm.
We soon are corralled into a corner and receive rules and safety instruction to prevent falling - don’t run, don’t pick up the stone, don’t walk backwards when sweeping. And they point out the very important tradition about the winning team buying the losing team the first round of drinks...although probably not applied to our mostly minor-aged group. And the game was invented in Scotland...those Scots.
The group of boys run off, playing with the brooms, trying to move the stones and generally sliding around the ice. Man, who are these kids, where is their supervision...oh that’s us. I am already worried that one of the kids will fall and get a concussion. Oh geez, there’s a basketball tournament the next day and if they lose I know it will be my fault. What have I done!
We soon learn to push off and launch the stones, using a broom to help with balance. We are supposed to start low, then butts up as we push off into a lunge position and release the stone in a 10 to 12 twist towards the direction of the skip. Okay, no problem right…Holy crap, curling looks so easy on TV! The boys were much better at it, as they tried to be creative with their final poses.
Let’s just go on to sweeping shall we. After the launch of the stone, there is a sweeper on each side that rubs the brooms on the ice to create friction and move the stone towards the desired target, whether towards the bullseye or to push an opponent’s stone’s away. Note: I don’t sweep that fast (if I ever sweep at all), and depending on the speed of the stone, you may have to sweep super super fast, or it’s going too fast and you just watch it fly away. The circles around the bullseye area is called the house, and you want your stones to end up there in order to get points.
We’ve learned and practiced the basics, so it’s time to scrimmage. You should see how the boys faces light up when there’s mention of a competition. We all “try” and take our turns. Okay, the boys eventually take over. After a 1-1 start, our team launches an early stone in the house somewhat close to the bullseye, so the other team needs to knock ours out or get one closer. After each team launches 7 stones, it comes down to the last opposing teams stone. They had an earlier one get close, but not close enough. Since they have the hammer (like in football, the coin toss determines who gets last possession), they launch their final stone...and it’s so close...their instructor acts as skipper and sweeps it along (hey, is that cheating) … and it stops. Short by that much.
We win! You would have thought the boys won the World Series, they were so happy, jumping up and down, high fiving each other. After quick handshakes with the other team, they immediately slid down to where the scoreboard was located and took a group selfie. Boys. All I’m going to ask is...are there college scholarships for curling?