Sunday, October 27, 2019

Adventure 34/50 : Curling!

Every four years I obsessively watch the Winter Olympics, get nerdy about curling, and think "I want to try that one day."


Seattle is home to the Granite Curling Club, reputedly some of the "best ice in the United States". And a few times a year they host open houses, where for $25 you can visit the club, learn about curling, and even play a little.

We walked in nervously, turned over our waivers and paid our $25, and moved to the windows to wait. We could see some other newbies, but also some very good players on the ice.

We were given our "grippers" -- rubber overshoes so we wouldn't slip on the ice. Stylish!

Then we headed out and learned some terminology. Each space is a "sheet"; and Cascade has 5 sheets. The target is called the "house", and the house sits between the "hog line" (marked in red), and the backline. The teams both throw from the same end, pushing off against a "hack" which is in the center of the sheet but behind the backline. Okay. 

We noticed that the ice surface is rough, or "pebbled" -- that's what helps the rock slide. We then went to the sides of our sheet to try and get comfortable with the sliding position. This is another group but I assume we looked pretty much like this:

Then at what felt like very soon, it was our turn to slide. First we slid using "crutches" in both hands... placing the foot we would be dragging against the hack, with our sliding foot on a sliding plate, and pushing off. Most of us wiped out at least once. I fell and hit my left knee so hard I felt woozy (it's purple as I type). I looked at Wil, wide-eyed, and he said, "We can stop whenever you want."

But we moved onward, starting to slide with the rock. The great big, granite curling stone. There's no definite weight of a curling stone, but there's a range between 38-44 pounds. The stones come from Scotland, where there's a particular quarry where a particular sort of granite comes from. It looks like Granite Curling Club had done a fundraiser where members could sponsor a stone, and those who did would have their names and a message engraved on the top. One of the women in our group noticed the rock she was playing with said "I love cats"; I noticed mine said, "Like curling? Try square dancing!"

Then we were introduced to sweeping, and why curlers do it. It's to make the rock slide faster -- or keep sliding, anyway. I assume you're smoothing the ice to create a faster path?

Then we were split into two teams and we played two ends. Each of us threw two rocks... and did some sweeping, and some yelling, etc. None of us were very good, but Wil's stone gave us a point in the first end, and then I was "skip" for the second round which meant I was calling the shots. This made me laugh and laugh, because I know that we weren't actually able to AIM...

In the end, we tied. Traditionally the losers buy the winners a drink, but I don't think we were really up for it...

We did head upstairs to see more of the club. They have a nice upstairs area, complete with a bar, great sears for viewing the action, a couple of pool tables, and THREE MIRROR BALLS. I wonder if non-curlers can go to the club to just watch?

Amusingly, on the middle sheet there was a very good team playing another very good team. We quietly admired their custom shoes, nice brooms, and matching outfits. Apparently they're hoping to go to nationals...

So, are we going to take up curling? Nope. But I'm so happy to have tried it as one of my 50@50 adventures. Now I'm going to get a fresh ice pack for my knee...


  1. We tried curling when the girls were little and saw it on the 7am olympic broadcast! My legs were sooooo sore from the lunging but it was a fun outing. At the time we couldn't afford to join the club, but the girls were really interested in the strategy and the physics of it!

  2. I was surprised how sore my core was -- trying to keep myself balanced! My husband had some arms from his energetic sweeping. :)