If you’re looking for a winter sport that doesn’t involve going out in the wind and snow, think about curling. With its roots in 16th century Scotland, the sport has experienced a new popularity since it was added as an Olympic competition in 1998 and is currently one of the fastest-growing winter sports, says Paula Bloom, president of the Broadmoor Curling Club in Colorado Springs.
What is curling?
Well, Wikipedia defines it (accurately, she said) as: “a sport in which players slide polished granite stone on a sheet of ice toward a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles (think of a bull’s-eye). It is related to games like bowls and shuffleboard. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy (42-pound) stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet toward the target marked on the ice.
“Each team has eight stones, with each player throwing two. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center.”
Bloom has been playing for 11 years – since she was 42. Retired from the U.S. Navy, she was invited to come try it by her boss at NORAD. One session and she was hooked.
The 2½-hour Learn to Curl session she took – one the club offers regularly to interested potential players – includes learning how to “throw” (really slide) the stone, how to “sweep” to give it direction and how to score. The first session also includes a chance to play a game or two. A Learn to Curl session costs $35. If you come to regular sessions, they usually meet at 5:30 p.m. Sundays at the Broadmoor World Arena’s Olympic ice sheet.
Curling is exercise
The great thing about curling is that it offers good exercise, she said. You walk with the stone up and down the ice, or you sweep in front of it to guide it and “that’s some great cardio exercise,” she said. It’s also a mental challenge, with strategy and thought going into every move.
All ages can play, “from 8 to 80,” she said. Though the stones weigh quite a bit, there are kid-sized ones that only tip the scales at 22 pounds.
“It’s one of the few sports a whole family can play together,” she said.
It’s also a game tailored to people with limitations.
She’s injured both of her ACLs, has bad knees and has back issues, but she can still play. An assistance called a curling delivery device can make it possible for just about anyone to play, including folks in wheelchairs. There are adaptations for people who are blind or hard of hearing.
“I can’t do soccer of volleyball, but I can do this,” Bloom said. “If you have limitations, just talk to your doctor first.”
Curling for all interest levels
Participants can do the sport just for fun or they can get very competitive, she added. The local club offers a tournament annually and there are other arena clubs around the state – in Denver, Fort Collins, Aspen and Telluride, among others – that offer competitive events. Many more exist nationally.
The club gives back to the community, offering to teach curling to disabled veterans and working with boys’ and girls’ clubs and other community partners.
“We try to teach sportsmanship, team building, all of that,” she said.
If nothing else, a curling club offers a social outlet for anyone needing it, Bloom said. “Some people just come for the social interaction. It gets them out of the house, doing something with other people.”
On the club’s website, it tells you when the next Learn to Curl sessions are being offered, what to wear and how to prepare. (The club provides the equipment, so there’s no need to go buy anything.) It also lists fees for memberships or individual sessions. Visit https://coloradocurling.org/ for all that information
With anywhere from 55 to 100 folks interested in playing each week, the club is now trying to build its own dedicated facility.
“Sometimes, the hardest thing is just getting ice time” Bloom said.
And she suspects the popularity of the sport will only continue to grow. “One nice thing about it is, you don’t have to learn it when you’re young to get good at it. And it’s fun!”