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Curling 101

By Richard Gonyeau
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let me guess ... you’ve never heard of curling? I figured as much.

Even though it’s a sport that originated in the 16th century, most of the U.S. population still thinks curling is something you do at the gym, or to your hair. Maybe you saw some curling on television during the Winter Olympics this year? If so, you watched a bunch of guys wearing funny pants, screaming indecipherable gibberish to one another while using brooms ... to sweep ... something? It’s OK if you’re confused. You’ve come to the right place.

I won’t list the basics of curling here, since there’s already a plethora of information available on the web. (If you truly have never heard of curling before, I highly recommend starting at wikipedia.org. The curling page is very informative. It will teach you everything you want to know, from hog lines to hack weight.) Instead, this blog will focus on United States curling, particularly, curling in the Northeast. We’ll talk about current events in the world of curling, and what it’s like to compete on the local and national level.

In my few years of curling experience, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a variety of bonspiels. (A bonspiel is a curling competition. Don’t worry, we’ll cover that later.) I’ve traveled halfway across the U.S. to play this addictive sport. I’ve met, learned from, and competed against former Olympians. Of course, there are others who have curled much longer than I have. My viewpoint is part of the more recent surge of curlers within the United States. I can assure you, we’re an enthusiastic bunch with a fresh perspective on an ancient sport.

Ever since curling was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1998, clubs around America have experienced dramatic growth. Most people see curling on television for the first time. Or maybe they stumble across a blog about curling, and want to learn more. We all find out about curling in different ways. For the sake of introductions, I’ll share my personal story with you.

I was working the night shift here at The Gazette in 2006. After watching a few Winter Olympic curling matches on television that year, I decided it was time for me to learn more. I thought the Sports department would be a good place to start, so I walked over there and asked a question out loud,

“Does anybody here know anything about curling?”

Evidently, I just told the joke of the day, because the only response I got was laughter. Clearly no one knew, or cared to share with me anything about curling. I was slightly embarrassed. However, one of our writers, Rick Stellrecht, looked up with a smile and proceeded to answer all my questions about this strange and unique sport. He had been covering curling for years. He instructed me to check out the Schenectady Curling Club. They were nearby, and having an open house that very weekend. I was in luck!

After spending the entire weekend at the Schenectady Curling Club, I was hooked. The people were so friendly. They went out of their way to make me feel welcome and teach me as much as I wanted to learn. I decided to join immediately, and have been a member ever since.

Click on a few of the curling-related links below if you’d like to learn more about this intriguing sport. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll talk about curling in the Northeast, what it’s like, how to get involved, how to learn more, etc. If there are any curlers reading this, feel free to email me the story of how you first learned about, or got into curling. I’ll post any responses in an upcoming blog entry.

Cheers all, and good curling!

Everything you ever wanted to know about the basics of curling, click HERE.

United States Curling Association homepage, click HERE.

Richard Gonyeau lives in Rotterdam and is a member of the Schenectady Curling Club.

 
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