Curling Clinic

What’s better than a local curling clinic? A local curling clinic that takes place at ICE STATION VALENCIA! (Having recently watched Ice Station Zebra, the jokes never stopped coming.)

I’ve been fascinated by curling since the Olympics four years ago, and this year I got to watch almost every televised match. But my friend Erik and I were not the only people to catch curling fever. We estimated that over 150 people showed up for this clinic. (The one next weekend has 250 pre-registered!) Here we are, crammed into a room watching an instructional video.

From 2010 Photobook


After that, it was down to the ice! Which is not as slippery as you might think. They create it with a bubbly, knobbed surface. We were able to walk on it and almost run during the sweeping drills. But here are the real stars, the stones! And daaaamn, these things are heavy — between 38 and 44 pounds. For this reason, you never carry the stones. You always push them along the ice, and never slide them toward people’s ankles. Despite their size and weight, only a small portion of the stone connects with the ice.

From 2010 Photobook

We spent most of the 2-hour session working on our delivery — the release of the stone. This is about a million times harder than it looks. The left foot (for us right-handers) is slippery, and ends up in front of you during the slide. It’s very difficult to keep your balance and think about the stone and its rotation (its “curl”). Here’s a brief video of one of my deliveries, filmed by Erik:

And this, just for reference, is how you deliver a stone if it weighs more than you do:

From 2010 Photobook

We were only sending rocks 1/4 to 1/2 of the way down the curling sheet. It takes great technique to send them the whole way with the right amount of weight (velocity), curl (turn), and line (direction). But sweeping is challenging as well! You have to press down as hard as possible on the end of the broom. Our instructor said if someone were to knock the broom away, you should fall on your face. You also have to move quickly across the ice, avoid other stones, and never touch your own stone. If you touch it, it’s “burned” and removed from play. Here’s a sweeping drill:

From 2010 Photobook

The third skill we worked on was acting as “skip,” the team’s leader and strategist. The skip stands at the other end and tells the person throwing three things: where the stone should end up, where to aim the stone, and the direction the stone should curl (in that order).

All in all, I had a blast trying something completely new. I enjoyed meeting the 10 other people in our group, and I loved watching us all improve over the course of two hours. If I didn’t have kung fu, I’d consider joining the local curling league and giving it a try. It’s a really fun sport, and surprisingly difficult and complex. And that’s me, signing out from ICE STATION VALENCIA!

From 2010 Photobook

Comments

Mandy 8 years ago .

So cool! Looks like you guys had a great time. Erik mentioned something about his screaming knees but I'm sure he loved it.

Jenn Reese 8 years ago .

With the ice and the cold and the weird body positions, you can just imagine how much Erik "loved" it. :-D

Erik R 8 years ago .

If only they turned up the heat in that place!

Anna 8 years ago .

Wow, this looks like so much fun! I got really into curling during the last Olympics too. I'll have to look for a clinic near me. Thanks for sharing!

Sally F 8 years ago .

While I fully support your right to explore shiver-y, icy athleticism from the comfort of your seasonless SoCal home, I exorcise my own right to view winter's trappings with suspicion and feel glad the season has finally released its grip on my environs. Go, bluebonnets!

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