curling stonesCome on…who will step up and admit that when they first saw Curling stones being thrown at the Olympics they questioned how something that looked  similar to the shuffle board played at the local pub could possibly be worthy of the ability to win a coveted gold medal?

Go ahead, raise your hand, nobody is watching. Is my arm the only one waving frantically in the air? 

I am now seriously reconsidering my stance on its worthiness and believe that I may have a better shot at going to the Olympics for the triple jump, then Curling.

learning to curlOur good friend and fellow blogger at Above the Brim, Houston Porter, graciously invited Peter and I to a Learn to Curl class at the infamous Snoopy Ice Arena. This is the same rink that taught me all of my, very limited, ice skating skills a few years back. Houston is a member of the Wine Country Curling Club and this was the first time they would be throwing curling stones so close to home. I am all in. And if I am in, so is Peter, much to his dismay.

Arriving at the rink brought back fond memories of my brief figure skating days and flashbacks of the painful apple-sized bruise on my hip that my not-so graceful waltz jump gave me. Curling could not be as dangerous. Could it?Annette White with Curling StonesWe were given a brief overview of the sport and terminology necessary for our first day of instruction. If I had never mentioned it before, I am a slow learner…very slow, just ask my college jazz dance teacher. But, my lack of speed is made up for in pure determination.

Unfortunately, within my first fifteen minutes I was lost in a cluster of foreign vocabulary. Sweepers, curling stones and skippers? Oh my.

Once on the ice, we started by holding two rocks (the granite curling stones thrown by the shooters) and practiced pushing off a foothold device called the hack. Okay, it’s official, this is freakin’ hard and my Converse tennis shoes were not helping. The flat-footed bottoms did not protect me from the hypothermia going on in toes.

Pete with his curling stoneNext, we had to hold the stone in one hand and the broom in the other, push off the hack, don’t pass the hog line, aim for the skipper, release the rock and get it in the house. Huh?

That was like twelve things at once I had to remember. Is that even possible?

Apparently it is, after five attempts and icy wet pants from failure. It was now time to do my domestic duty of sweeping. Sweeping is when the player takes the broom and briskly rubs it across the ice to smooth  it out, making way for the curling stones to glide freely. Warning: Sweeping promotes uncontrollable pee-your-pants laughter. I was really trying to be a helpful teammate and assist the stone to its destination, but sweeping is funny.

Annette White Learning to CurlAfter just an hour, the other participants were ready for a battle and my completive nature was ready for the challenge. Me, my broom and a couple of curling stones…we were ready for action. The object was similar to a game of horseshoes; throw your curling stones closer to the bulls-eye than your competitors, knocking theirs out of the way when necessary and don’t celebrate too loud when you succeed.

There are no braggers in curling, it’s a gentlemens sport. The first game, my stone didn’t even reach the house (bulls-eye), those little suckers take some power to get across the ice. What about game number two? R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N! My little stone won the game for my team! It wasn’t actually in the tee (center) of the house, but close enough to quietly toot my own horn.

Curling stones on the iceWe walked away from 2-hours of throwing curling stones and sweeping with seriously sore abs, a genuine appreciation for the sport and a great story to tell of a tremendously fun new experience.

Still confused about curling? Watch this video to get the basics:

Have you ever thrown curling stones?

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