It was just a few weeks ago when members of the Bend Curling Club added a new listing to our calendar, looking to boost the numbers for their club, which meets several times a week at The Pavilion in Bend. Since no one has yet proposed building a wall between us and Canada, we thought it was only fitting that we give this sport—with origins in Scotland, but one well-loved by our Canuck friends to the north—a try. (We need all the allies we can muster!)
Turns out, the sport is pretty popular here in Central Oregon, too. According to members of the Bend Curling Club, Bend Park and Recreation's Adult Curling sessions fill up extremely fast, so the Bend Curling Club was formed to fill the gap for curlers.
Because we were most certainly dummies before we stepped onto the ice, here's a brief description of the game, courtesy of "Curling for Dummies."
"Curling is a sport in which two teams of four players each slide 40-pound granite rocks (also called stones) down a sheet of ice toward a target at the other end. Each team tries to get more of its stones closer to the center of the target than the other team." If you're one of those Benditos who spends time lobbing bocce balls in the summer, then you'll probably catch right on. One big difference (besides the temperature) is that in curling, the person sliding the rock is aided by sweepers, who urgently "sweep" the ice in front of the rock to help it travel farther to reach the target.
With that, here's our take on curling, from a three-generation perspective.
Wyatt Gaines, 20-something
Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed curling! It combined the pace and technique one utilizes in billiards and darts, but takes place in a new environment and requires physicality and teamwork in a way that these bar games do not. As a person who has spent next to zero time on an ice rink, just being on the rink is cool in itself. Bright lights, crisp air, shiny stones; all considered, it's a very beautiful game.
My biggest takeaway is a new appreciation for the sport. I'm looking forward to catching it in the coming Winter Olympics and impressing all my friends with my knowledge. Best part of curling: the lane you're on is called a sheet—new meaning to "shooting the sheet!"
Nicole Vulcan, almost 40-something
Having been longing for the leisurely days of summer, when bocce ball is the anchor to my day drinking, curling seemed to be a good wintertime stand-in. The basic tenets of the sport aren't difficult to grasp, and the Saturday night club atmosphere is relaxed and all about having a good time. To me, Saturday night sports should be like that: fun, chill and not too competitive. Plus, there was good music playing.
Bend Curling Club member Barb Lyons, who joined the club last year with her husband, seemed to agree. "It's not age-dependent," she said. "It's been wonderful because neither one of us are skiers, and we wanted to do something in the wintertime that got us outside. It's fun, it's family oriented, and you don't have to be a jock to play." Nuff said, Barb, thanks!
Richard Sitts, 60-something
As my right leg pushed off of the "hack," my left foot, on its "slider," splayed outward, propelling me face-first into the ice and sending the 40-pound stone careening out of control into the team of curlers next to us, undercutting one of them, who smacked down hard on the rock-hard glaze.
OK, that didn't really happen.
But with my subpar sense of balance, it very well could have, had I tried the traditional method of curling. While my more able-bodied colleagues, Nicole and Wyatt, jumped right in with considerable success, I wimped out and used the extender pole (optional, but illegal in competition) to launch my stone down the ice. This made it seem like shuffleboard on ice and it felt a little bit like cheating. I can't recall ever hanging out for two hours straight on a sheet of ice, let alone having so much fun in the process. I felt the camaraderie shared by the members of the Bend Curling Club. Richard Peterson was a great instructor of the sport and made the three of us curling virgins feel welcome. I would definitely be up for giving curling another try and perhaps working up to that traditional sliding delivery.
The Bend Curling Club offers sessions Friday mornings and Saturday nights; contact the club in advance to sign up.
Bend Curling Club
Bend Park & Recreation District
Check for classes and available drop-in curling times at: Register.bendparksandrec.org
Look for the 20/40/60 feature the third week of each month, featuring three generations of Source staff trying out a new activity in Central Oregon.