It starts with a hand shake and a coin toss. It is relatively quiet at the beginning – just small talk amongst the teammates and competitors. I am usually the first up for my team. I get down and watch as my skip wordlessly signals where I should throw the rock. If I am on my game, all I will hear is the sound of the 40 pound stone gliding over the pebbled ice; if I’m off, the quiet will be pierced by the sound of my skip yelling “SWEEP” “HARDER” and “OFF” as my teammates follow my rock down the ice helping to direct it to where it needs to lay. I repeat this process and then it is my turn to sweep for the 3 teammates, two rocks each until the end is done. For two hours every Monday I get to escape into the world of curling.
I was skeptical at first; curling, was this really something I was going to like? It seemed like you only ever heard about curling every 4 years during the winter Olympics and that was just in passing. Now I was an official Minnesota resident and decided I needed to embrace something in my new home of Grand Rapids, so I decided to take the intro to curling class offered by community ed. My husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law had taken the class the year before and liked it so much they decided to join in league play. After them continually telling me how fun curling was I decided to just do it, found two friends who had never curled and we took the class, there was no going back after that, I was hooked.
The best part of curling is that anyone can do it… and it usually coincides with drinking adult beverages! Curling is also relatively easy to learn. Yes, there are some tricky rules but you pick up on the basics really quick and once you have those down the rest all falls in line quickly. But this post isn’t about how to curl, it’s about why I curl and why everyone should try it at least once!
I started curling before I had my son and when I had recently moved to a new place. It was a great way to meet new people and have a good time. Really that is why I started curling, to have fun, but it ended up providing me with a lot more benefits.
I curled during the beginning of my pregnancy and didn’t play in a league the year after my son was born. As my baby got older I slowly worked my way back into the sport, subbing for league teams and playing in weekend bonspiels (curling tournaments) when grandma and grandpa were available to babysit. As time went on I realized how good curling was for me mentally and physically.
First off it allowed my husband and I to spend more time together. Mixed and open leagues and bonspiels are available for men and women to play on the same team so my husband and I are able to enjoy this activity together. We get to spend time together without the baby and have a night or weekend of fun.
Second, it has helped me get back in shape. The thing about curling is you don’t really have to be in shape to play the game but the more balanced and flexible you are the easier it is. Having a strong core and arms for sweeping is also a benefit but again, not necessary, when I say anyone can curl I really mean anyone can curl. The first year I curled in a league the skip (captain who calls the shots) for my team was 70 years old!
Curling has introduced me to a whole new community of friends. I have curled with people from age 16 to 70; people from all walks and stages of life. I have found that almost every curler I meet is a genuinely nice person. From beginners to old timers and everyone in between they are always willing to offer advice and pointers and of course a beverage after the game.
Duluth and the surrounding areas have great curling facilities and opportunities for curlers at all skill levels. If you are interested in trying it out make sure to check out Duluth Curling Club, Superior Curling Club, and Two Harbors Curling Club!