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Today I had the opportunity to try a sport that I’ve never played before in my entire life: curling. I remember watching the intense and strategic games of curling during the Olympics, but beyond that the closest I’ve come is bocce ball, which is not very close.
I headed down to the Richmond Curling Rink, located kiddy corner to the Richmond Olympic Oval. They have a great facility including eight sheets of ice (play areas), a café, pro shop, and a huge sports bar and lounge with a fantastic observation area overlooking the arena.
I arrived with my friend Colin, who is an avid curling enthusiast and was eager to get on the ice and throw some rocks with me. Before we began however, I was introduced to the local resident expert Kim, who was more than happy to show and explain the ropes of the game to me. Curling is an interesting sport as it’s extremely technical and all about finesse. The most common beginner mistake is throwing the rock too hard- a lot of times it’s the gentler, steady shots that win a given game. As I watched the various games going on around me, it became immediately apparent the huge amount of strategy and positioning involved in curling. This can be a dirty game! When I say that I mean like chess dirty—out maneuvering and one-upping your opponent. I like it.
The objective of curling is to push a 44 pound rock down the playing area, called the sheet, and try to land it in the ‘button’ (bulls-eye) at the far end. It is essentially a huge target on the ice about 146 feet away from where you start. Frozen bocce on crack is a good analogy.
After a quick on ice lesson on proper rock throwing technique (I was awful, despite what Kim says), as well as a briefing on sweeping techniques (yes, women sweep better than men- ha!), I was ready to try my luck! I positioned myself and placed my foot in the ‘hack’ (like a starting block used to push off of), broom in hand for support, and grabbed my rock. Eyes on the target, I pushed off and launched my rock. I soon found out that it’s imperative to the game of curling that you keep your rock on your sheet of ice and not your neighbour’s. You don’t get points for completely missing your target and landing it next door. Ha! Well, despite my lack of curling skills I had a blast and it was a great new experience.
Colin soon challenged me to a three rock game for beers upstairs afterwards. Since I know you’ve watched the video you all know how that turned out. J Winter ale with winter sports. I love it.
If you’re interested in trying some curling or already are a curler, the Richmond Curling Rink offers league play, tournaments, train and plays, event hosting and sheet rental. Of course if you’re a ‘gifted curler’ like me, the bar and observation deck upstairs are also an excellent choice! Definitely check them out and have some fun!
For more information visit their website here: http://www.richmondcurling.com/
PS. I throw a MEAN game of bocce, if anyone is up for a challenge.