Based in Richmond, Va, Catherine is a freelance writer specializing in stories about the arts, parenting, health and wellness, aging, and fascinating people.

Keep the Olympic Spirit Going: Learn to Curl

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Were your kids glued to the TV in February, watching Olympians perform amazing physical feats?

If curling intrigued you after watching stones being thrown and swept across the ice, you might be surprised to know there are actually opportunities to curl in Richmond. The Curling Club of Virginia hosts curling games throughout the year at Richmond Ice Zone.

For those who didn’t have a chance to catch curling on TV, here’s a quick synopsis:

Curling is a game of strategy with four players on each team. The players alternate sliding 16 stones toward their “goal”—a circular target area—while other players sweep the ice, moving a broom back and forth in front of the stone to control its movement. Eight ends or rounds comprise a game and take about two hours to play.

Becky Jenkins, her husband, and her two sons started playing in 2014 when the boys were about 12 and 15. They had watched it during the winter Olympics and wanted to give it a try. Although it took over an hour for them to drive to the ice rink, they decided to go to a learn2curl event. “We really enjoyed it,” Becky says, “and we ended up joining a league.”

The leagues typically play games once a week during the winter and spring.

Four people play on each team, with mixed ages, from 13 all the way to 60. For Becky’s kids, who are homeschooled, the league provided an opportunity to meet all different kinds of people. “The people they’ve met on the curling league have provided a positive influence in their lives,” Becky says, with some talking to the kids about preparing for college.

The added benefits?

By the end of the night, her boys were completely worn out, and they had gotten great cardiovascular exercise.

Players spend almost the entire game running up and down the ice. “Their hearts are moving, and their legs are sore,” Becky says. “They build muscle and develop balance.” In addition to the physical challenge, curling works their concentration and strategy skills.

Although curling seems difficult, Becky swears anyone can do it if they try.

Becky had played softball and basketball a bit in school, but she doesn’t think of herself as an athlete. “I’m just as clumsy as I can be,” she says, “but it was pretty easy.”

Va Curling Club member P.J. Palsa demonstrating how to glide and throw stones. Credit: Mary-Margaret Park

I had the opportunity to try it recently at a press event, and I wouldn’t describe it as easy, but it was not as difficult as it looks. It takes a little time to master gliding off the ice and releasing a 42-pound stone, but the sweeping was really fun and fast-paced. And, hey, all that practice sweeping might get your kids to sweep the floors once in a while!

Most importantly, curling provides a great opportunity for family members to try something together.

“Learning something new was a bonding experience,” Becky says. “It’s something we’ll always remember.” If you’re interested in trying it out, the Virginia Curling Club is hosting several learn2curl events this spring. Bring your kids who are 13 and older, and see how they like it!

Link to original publication at richmondmomsblog.com

Adventures in Curling