Curling has a misbegotten rep for being dull and kind of unknowable. However, as winter sports go, it’s surprisingly easy to glide on in to full-on curling fandom.
The basics of curling are as follows: two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones (rocks) towards a circular target (the house). Points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house when both teams have thrown all of their stones. Repeat for eight or ten rounds (ends).
Considering the mix of ice and rocks, it’s not a surprise that curling is one of the world’s oldest team sports, originating in the 16th century in Scotland. However, curling is a sport with a distinctly Canadian vibe. Good sportsmanship is an integral part of curling. You congratulate your opponents for making a good shot, you never jeer any type of mistake, and there’s zero showboating. It’s a very modest game, which lends to its Canadianity. Post-game, hot or cold beverages are always an option.
“I’ve been a fan since 1993, watching with my dad,” says curling enthusiast Lesley Facey. “I played for four years with the teacher curling league here in St. John’s, and love to attend events that come here such as the Grand Slam event, The National.”
“My son has joined me in my love of curling, and plays Saturday mornings with the Little Rocks program at the ReMax Centre.” The Little Rocks programs (ages 7-10) play on Saturday mornings and there’s a youth program (ages 10-18) on Saturdays and after school.
Another bonus for wannabe curlers: the barrier to entry is low because there’s no equipment to buy. “The club supplies the brooms, and all you need is to be warm and comfortable as you’re on ice,” says Facey.
“You can start with a pair of clean sneakers with a strip of duct tape on them for sliding if you’re testing out the sport.” From there, you can buy a slider to go over your sneakers or actual curling shoes. Brooms usually go for $100 and up.
Curling’s also a very accessible game. Play can be adapted for wheelchair users and people that might experience difficulty when attempting to throw the stone.
If you are in the city and want to try curling, you can rent a sheet of ice at Bally Haly Country Club or the ReMax Centre for an hour at a time. You don’t even need to convince seven of your friends for a bonspiel: “For any adult wanting to try playing on a team, there is a Saturday night social league aimed for new and novice curlers,” says Facey. “You can register for the Winter session coming up as an individual or up to a group of 4, and they place you in a team for each week, mixing it up in order to have everyone meet each other for a social game.”
The ReMax Curling Club Saturday Social League’s winter session consists of 8-10 nights of curling from January to March, for $120 (taxes incl.).