I can’t tell you how the Olympics sparked my interest in winter sports. As I child, I would spin, twirl, and land triple lutz axels around the house as I pretended to be a figure skater. I went one step further and took lessons. It didn’t matter that the closest rink was an hour away!
I enjoy the winter and being outdoors, but I also like to try new things. Olympians make the sport look so effortless and easy, so when I watch, I say to myself “I could totally do that!” So when I heard that there is a place in Seattle where you can learn how to curl, I wanted to sign up immediately. I know that curling is not one of the most exciting of Winter Olympic sports, but it is definitely one of the least impact ones.
Granite Curling Club
Granite Curling Club is located in Seattle and has open houses to learn how to curl. I would hear other participants trying to compare curling to other sports–bocce ball, shuffle board, bowling, etc.
You can pre-register online for one of their open houses or try to walk in with multiple time frames options. It is advised to wear comfortable, flexible clothing if you plan on curling, along with clean sneakers. Upon arrival, pay $25 per person and sign in for your time slot. On average, the instruction and practice lasts about 90 minutes.
Before Hitting the Ice
After you sign in, staff will clean your shoes and fit you with grippers, which look like the rain booties you wore over shoes as a child. After your shoes are cleaned and equipped for ice, participants are broken into eight people groups (even though regular teams consist of four people) and are on each end of the rink with an instructor.
A quick breakdown of the ice and terminology is given. I would have enjoyed more history on the sport and technique tips, but they wanted us to get comfortable to be able to play a few ends. After talking about the objective of throwing the stones into the house to score points, we were shown how to throw a stone.
The hack is used to push off of to throw the stone. The granite stones weigh an average of 40 lbs each. We broke down even further into groups of two to get a feel of how the stone moves on the ice. standing against the side borders of the ice, we “tossed” the stone around.
Being right handed, I started on the left-most hack and placed my right foot on it to push off. Professionals are able to balance their throws by using their brooms and stone. However, since I was an amateur, I used a prop to help me, which was definitely easier for a beginner. This allowed my form to be somewhat correct even if I had trouble getting my stone into the house.
After a few practice throws, we were instructed on how to sweep the stone down the ice. Most have strong and weak sweeping sides. I found that my right shoulder forward was my strong side. My left facing shoulder made it hard to look down the ice to make sure I wasn’t about to run into a stone that has already been thrown.
Last but not least, we were taught the skip position and strategy on where to aim the stones into the house or by protecting the house.
After tossing a coin to see who will go first and who has their choice of color, we started. Since Team Blue (Andy and I) lost the toss, Team Red had first throw. One of the negative critiques I have of the open house is the short playing time. However, Granite Curling Club does offer private sessions to solve this problem.
Taking turns as sweepers and throwers, everyone on the team did a great job rotating through the team responsibilities. Some preferred the “skip” position or strategist who directed the thrower and sweepers. The skip is the only one that is permitted to sweep the opponents stone once it passes the tee line.
After the first end, we were taught how to score. Each permanent number on the scoreboard is for the number of ends. Depending on your team color and number of points scored, a number is placed on the team that received the point for that end. It is similar to hanging numbers to a baseball scoreboard, but only one team gets points for the end.
The Granite Curling Club’s second floor includes a bar and viewing area. The high view allows you to watch the matches on the ice easier than on the main floor.
What winter sport have you always wanted to try?
If you liked this post, please share it. To follow me on my journey to travel the world please subscribe to my RSS feed or any of my social networks.