I've never been particularly sports-inclined, nor have I ever displayed any proclivity towards athletics. Let me put this bluntly: I've always been a complete klutz. My mother enrolled me in ballet lessons when I was 7, hoping I'd learn a little bit of grace in the process (it didn't work). I run into things that are right in front of me, or beside me, or even behind me. I've slammed the car door on my head not once, but TWICE.
So, naturally, anything that requires hand-eye coordination and general physical prowess is NOT my strong point.
Nevertheless, I was pretty excited when I heard there was a curling rink in my area. Curling is an Olympic sport that is gaining some notoriety due to the flamboyance of the Norwegian team in Sochi this year, and my best friend was glued to it during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I had no idea how it worked, but thought it looked so ridiculous that I HAD to be able to do it. Right? Right???!!! It seemed pretty straight forward: someone sends a big stone gliding down the ice, and then two other people obsessively scuttle alongside the stone, using a brush to vigorously "clean" the ice in the stone's path.
I thought: "I can sweep a goddamn kitchen floor, I can totally sweep some ice. Fuhgeddaboudit!"
My best friend Adrienne, my husband Will, and my sisters-in-law Becky and Laura all registered for a beginner's curling class, and we were super excited to try it. Becky is crazy about the Olympics, Adrienne has always been completely enamored with curling, Will's a big sports-buff, and Laura is going through a messy divorce and could use an outlet for her pent-up aggression. Me, I just thought it would be fun and relatively easy once I figured out how NOT to fall on the ice.
|Learning to sweep.|
1) Shooting the stone (I don't remember what exactly it's called) requires a lot of precision. You have to brace your foot on a stabilizer attached to the ice, while positioning your other foot on a super slippery piece of cloth. Then you juggle a broom under one arm and cast the stone off with the other arm - all while you push off and glide across the ice on your slidey foot. Sounds confusing? It is.
|Practice round, with two stones for balance. Look at how STABLE I am! Ha. |
Ater humiliating myself in multiple attempts, I finally figured out that I'm right-handed but NOT right-footed. Once I started using my left foot as primary, I was able to shoot the stone pretty easily. Who knew? (well, the instructor knew, but still... I personally was blown away by this revelation).
|NOW I'm looking more like a pro (I'm there, in the distance, watching my stone glide effortlessly down the line toward the waiting sweepers).|
2) Sweeping (scrubbing the ice like a crazy person while the stone glides along) is a lot of work! A LOT. You have to scrub the ice as hard as you can while the skip screams at you to keep going. If you don't hear the skip telling you to stop, you will continue punishing your arms and core muscles for absolutely no reason (so try to pay attention, for the love of gawd!). Also - I finally realized halfway through the game that I was scrubbing about 5 feet further away than I should have been. You want to scrub pretty close to the stone, and I was just out there in the middle of nowhere, sweeping enthusiastically for absolutely no reason. Lesson learned, I guess.
|Me, sweeping at a more appropriate distance from the stone.|
3) Falling on the ice hurts. My husband took a hard hit falling backward, and the instructor almost crapped his pants when he saw Will going down. They warned us beforehand that falling backward on the ice could crack our skulls open, and that we need to tuck our chins in the moment we lose our footing. Luckily, Will remembered to tuck at the very last second and there was no blood spilled on the ice that evening.
|Adrienne, on the ground after slipping while shooting the stone. Notice how perfectly the stone is gliding thanks to her great sacrifice.|
My team won 1-0 (no thanks to my fruitless, albeit vigorous, sweeping). It felt so good, I almost considered joining the league and striving to master this curling business. Then I thought better of it, because sports hobbies are wicked expensive. But I'd definitely like to go again in the future! If you're looking for a fun, random activity to do with friends and/or family, you should check to see if there's a curling club in your area!
|Husband and wife teamwork!|
|Asses kicked, names taken. Our work here is done.|