Enthusiasts bring curling to the South

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The game of sliding heavy stones across a frozen pond emerged during the 16th century in Scotland. In 1998, the sport known as curling gained worldwide attention in the Winter Olympics, piquing the curiosity of billions. The popularity of the game spread from the frigid North to the temperate state of North Carolina, where, in 2011, a small group of curling enthusiasts formed the Coastal Carolina Curling Club. Saturday, Dec. 13, the club invites others to discover the sport for themselves during a Learn to Curl workshop at the Wilmington Ice House.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with an overview of curling rules followed by practice of curling technique on the ice. The workshop is $20 and all equipment is provided.

“People can just wear sneakers that aren’t going to slide,” club member Anita Dingler said. “The only thing you need to curl is your body.”

Club president Roger White said the first step to playing a curling match is preparing the ice. He said he douses the ice with a fine spray of water from something similar to a pesticide pump nozzle to create tiny frozen droplets.

“You pebble the ice, so then the stones are running on top of the pebbles,” he explained. “It actually does two things: it levels the surface and it reduces friction so the stones go faster.”

Participants will then split into teams of four. Each team member gets two turns to slide a 40-pound granite stone toward the opposite side of the rink, with the goal of placing it closest to the center of the circular target, called the house.

The World Curling Federation describes the game as one of the oldest team sports in the world because each team member actually plays a role in every shot.

After the thrower releases the stone, two team members run beside the stone, sweeping ice pebbles in the stone’s path with specialized brooms to enable it to travel faster. The fourth teammate stands waiting in the house, providing instructions to the thrower and sweepers about the weight, speed and curl of the throw.

“The game is communication,” White said. “The team that wins is the one that communicates how fast the stone is going; do you need to sweep, what are you trying to do.”

Club member Tony Jacobs agreed, calling it “chess on ice” because of the importance of devising, communicating and executing a strategy. The game is also physically demanding, he added.

“I’ve come off the ice soaked, dripping wet,” Jacobs said.

Despite the exertion sometimes required, White said one of his favorite aspects of curling is everyone, regardless of age and natural athletic ability, can learn to do it.

“We have a family [in the league]that’s a granddad, dad, and daughter,” he said. “The daughter is 12 or 13 and the granddad is 70. It’s really a social event. We’ve all become friends through this.”

For more information or to register, visit www.coastalcurling.com

email emmy@luminanews.com 

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