Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Learning to Curl (and be Canadian)

I'm sure you've all heard of curling. Probably mocked it at some point in your life. Laughed at the guys sweeping the ice with a broom. Made a joke about how women should be good at it. Well laugh all you want, this game is freaking hard!

We joined the McArthur Island Curling Club's Learn to Curl program. It's an 8 week course where they teach you the basics of curling, and give you the the opportunity to join a league once you're done. We've been doing it for 5 weeks now, and I think to some extent we've improved. Those first few weeks I was in a whole lot of pain every Wednesday.

Let me set the scene, you have a shoe with a teflon coating on the bottom... and you have to slide on it on the ice. It's been going about as well as you would expect! The ice is actually covered with tiny little ice bumps that they apply with something that looks like a spot sprayer. The bumps help the stone move to the end of the ice, fast ice is "keen" ice.
Teflon and strategy
The basics are there are 4 people on a team, and everyone throws 2 rocks in a row (one team at a time). The captain "skip" throws last, and if you win the toss you get the choice to have the last throw "the hammer". Scoring is done the same as lawn bowls. You push out from the "hack" and the rock is thrown from something like a lunge position (hard), and you have to try and balance and slide on your teflon coated shoe with your back foot out behind you toes facing down. The slide is how the rock gets it's momentum, you're not supposed to push out the rock at all (but that is hard too).
Focus face, and they're "hurrying hard!"
The rock is thrown with a slight spin, either moving your hand from "10 O'Clock" to "12" or from "2" to "12". The Skip at the other end of the ice tells you where the want the rock, and which way they want you to curl it. For 3 weeks I think I needed bumpers, as I had huge issues getting the rock to stay inside our sheet of ice. The sweepers have to work out how fast the rock is going, and whether they need to sweep (to make it go further) or leave it in order for it to land where the skip is requesting. This is also really hard to gauge, and the majority of the rocks I'm sweeping for either run out the back or don't make it into play. The struggle is real!
We're cool!
I'm also not someone you want on your team. Not just because I'm a hazard, but I also get too much enjoyment from other people falling over. Twice I've actually said "YES". Out loud. Sorry team!

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