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Throwing the Rock

by Craig Edwards

Posted on January 20, 2008 at 10:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:41 PM

By Craig Edwards

My New Year's resolution for 2008 is a simple one; try as much new stuff as I possibly can. That idea lead me to the ice rink at Lloyd Center a couple of weeks ago to try a little curling.

Curling has been around for centuries, but saw a surge of interest here in the U.S. during the 2006 Winter Olympics. A bunch of us here at the station talked about trying it, so when an opportunity finally came, I jumped at it.

The Evergreen Curling Club was hosting an open house, teaching the basics of curling. By my count, about 100 people or so showed up to try their hand at "chess on ice."

First, let me tell you that it's INSANELY HARDER THAN IT LOOKS.

I was in a small group of about 10 people. Our instructors, Jeff and Neal, first taught us how to balance for a throw. You've got to push off, keeping your balance on the slippery ice, holding form long enough to get the Rock (which ways 40 pounds plus) sliding in a straight line. I was able to keep the Rock straight, but keeping myself balance didn't go so well. I fell over more than once. But since I was already in a kneeling position, it wasn't a big deal.

Next, I tried sweeping, which I was actually fairly good at (Direct Quote from my mother: "why don't you try that on your kitchen floor now?"... Thanks Mom). If you've ever watched the sport, and wondered what the deal with the sweeping is, I can now tell you.

By sweeping, you're actually heating up the ice, melting it somewhat and allowing the rocks to slide faster. Faster rocks go farther, and straighter. Good, hard sweeping can actually make a Rock go 10 to 20 feet further than it would otherwise. The next time you're watching curling, listen to the players yelling. They're telling the sweepers whether they should sweep harder, making the rock go faster, or if they should lay off, letting the rock slow down. I'm told it takes a lot of time and experience to be good at figuring that part out.

It was only a 2-hour session, so we really didn't get any further than that. But I will admit that I'm looking forward to another chance at it.

So the next time you're shopping on a Tuesday night, swing by Lloyd Center and check out some curling.