I Tried Curling and it’s Really Hard

Outside of Husker football and volleyball, I’ll admit that I’m not really one for sports. I don’t mind being a spectator if there’s lots of unhealthy food around and the beer is reasonably priced ($8 for a beer is enough to make anyone hate anything), but in general, wild horses couldn’t drag me to the field/pitch/court to spend 2+ hours of time that could have otherwise been spent with a book or binge-watching a show on Netflix. 

I know that my opinion is unpopular, though, especially here in Omaha. While Nebraska doesn’t have much by way of professional teams, we somehow manage to have some of the coolest sporting events in the country. We’ve been home to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials for the past three Olympics (and renewed for 2020), and we’ve been the host of the College World Series since 1950. This year, we have a new notch to add to our belt when the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials come to UNO’s Baxter Arena in November.

I work for the University Communications team, and our group has been promoting the heck out of this event (because who wouldn’t want to brag about being part of the Olympics?). Come November, we’ll be cheering with the best of them while shouting from the rooftops about how ridiculously cool it is that the sport that everyone finds totally fascinating (but nobody really understands) is coming to our university.

Any communicator knows that to do your best work, you have to do your research. So what was there to do but take a couple of hours to go over to Baxter Arena and take a curling lesson from Omaha’s Aksarben Curling Club? Yep, that’s right. On Friday, I put my curling skills to the test, and I’m going to share a few things I learned so that you’re ready for the trials, too. 

Look at that form!

Look at that form!

It’s called curling because you can twist the stone and release it so that it will curl out one way or the other. This helps you move around other stones on the sheet (which is the term in curling for the field/court/pitch).

Photo credit: E. Poeschl

Photo credit: E. Poeschl

The ice isn’t glossy like it would be for hockey. Through a process called pebbling, the ice is made a little more rough. It makes it much easier to walk on.

Successfully did not fall flat on my face - was not true for most attempts

Successfully did not fall flat on my face - was not true for most attempts

To slide off of the hatch (a safe, non-ice surface to stand on), you have a little shoe pad with teflon on the bottom. It’s really slippery and you will fall if you try to stand on it by itself. I know this from experience. 

The slide-y shoe. I think real curlers have actual footwear, but we noobs worked with these. 

The slide-y shoe. I think real curlers have actual footwear, but we noobs worked with these. 

Releasing the stone and not falling is really, really hard. See video of ungraceful curling below for evidence. This video shows how it’s actually supposed to be done.

Sweeping is even harder. The stones can move FAST, and because you don’t want to trip over anything else on the sheet, you have to look forward instead of backward at the stone. A person at the end of the sheet (called your “skip”) will yell if you should sweep or not, but you’re shooting (or sweeping) a bit blind.

Photo Credit: E. Poeschl. Broom sweep-a sweep-a

Photo Credit: E. Poeschl. Broom sweep-a sweep-a

But the bottom line - curling is fun! With the help of the Aksarben Curling Club and my two hour session, I’m totally ready for the Olympic trials. See you in November.

Thanks to Jason, Linda, and Kim for making this happen. 5/5 Specs, would curl again. Interested in attending the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials? Tickets are available here.

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