Learning to Curl
Call it a bonspiel, not a tournament. Draw, not game. Overtime? Nah. Maybe extra ends.
These are just a few terms from the glossary of curling introduced to my coworkers and I a few years ago, when working alongside one of Minnesota's own Olympic curlers, Cassie Potter (web designer by day, skip by night/weekend!). Like many curlers, the love of "the roaring game" (originally coined because of the sound of literal, rough river rocks scraping over ice) was passed down generations. Cassie was on the ice as a very little girl, with curling, in some regard, set as her destiny.
But it's not familiar to all Minnesotans, nor known as well nationally as say football or baseball. Still, the sport has medieval roots, and was first recognized back in the 1500s in Scotland—which is still home to the international governing body of curling, the World Curling Federation, and the historic Royal Caledonian Curling Club.
More recently, curling is most prominent in our neighbor to the north, Canada, and beautiful, manicured ice is now found inside arenas all around the world—including Minnesota.
Four Seasons Curling Club, named for its unique plan to operate year-round, is pretty new to the curling club world, and farther north, in Blaine, than its much older, more famous St. Paul counterpart. Part of its new schedule includes regular lessons to introduce curling to new audiences.
Lessons are held from 6-8 p.m. the next five Sundays: Feb. 10, 17 & 24, and March 3 & 10, 2013. Cost: $10. Receive 30 minutes of class instruction, covering key safety tips, rules, and terminoloy, and then hit the ice for 90 minutes of lessons on delivery, sweeping, and basic strategy. Finish with a couple end game, as time allows. To sign up, simply register online.
The Club will supply the equipment needed, but you're responsibile for dressing appropriately, so here are a few tips: There's ice involved, but it's not outside. The arena temperature is about 45-50 degrees, so dress in layers, to be safe and most comfortable. Jeans aren't recommended, since clothing should not restrict you from easy movement. Interestingly: fleece or velour jackets may be warm, but are also not recommended, because they tend to shed lil' fluff balls that could affect the path of the rocks (and are hard to clean off the ice). Athletic shoes are fine, but most importantly—because of that pesky ice and temperamental rocks—they should be clean (so bring another pair than the ones you're wearing while tredging through the slushy parking lot).
If you want to prep for your training or learn more, get some great animated answers at curlingbasics.com. Then head to The St. Paul Curling Club to watch some action at the 20th Annual Kyle Satrom Memorial Bonspiel (Feb. 9) or the 81st Annual St. Paul Men's International Bonspiel (Feb. 22). Also, NBC Sports will be broadcasting the US Nationals, semis and finals, live next weekend! You'll be following along in no time, and soon able to teach someone else what a wick is. And biter. And raised takout.
Four Seasons Curling Club - Fogerty Arena
9250 Lincoln St. NE, Blaine
St. Paul Curling Club
470 Selby Ave., St. Paul