Always wanted to try Canada's second-favorite winter sport? Our own Jenny Rogers loved it and would go back again-with a pair of gloves.
I enjoy nonstop Olympics coverage as much as the next sports fan, but I'd never really understood the curling hype. So, when I stepped into the Columbus Curling Club's North Side facility on a Thursday evening in October, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I wasn't all that excited. My first thought was: "I should have brought gloves. Why didn't anyone tell me to bring gloves?"
A small team of eager members was on hand to teach my group of 10 the basics of curling. The class started with a quick question-and-answer session and a rundown of the rules. I appreciated the instructor who told us we'd probably fall-and that we should get up quickly, or we'd risk leaving indentations on the fresh ice. They weren't going to baby us. Good.
From the introduction, we prepared to move onto the ice-which members had spread with a layer of water to create some texture and friction. First, we cleaned our soles on a motorized shoe cleaner. Tip: You have to press a button to make it work. If you can't figure it out, make a point of not being first in line (like I was) so you can see others operate the machine.
The group this evening included a range of ages, so I was a bit surprised by how rigorous the warm-up was. You'll be expected to lunge deeply and show off your balancing ability, so take time to get warm at home first. After stretching, we divided into pairs to learn how to push ourselves off the hack-similar to the starting block sprinters use-and move the rock down the ice. This is where balance comes in, and I was kicking myself for not taking more yoga classes. I didn't fall, but I came close a couple times.
The highlight was playing the full game, for which we regrouped after about 30 minutes of practice. It's a strange game for someone used to the fast pace of soccer, but it was fun-and often exhilarating-once I got over my fear of wiping out (I took care of embarrassing myself with the shoe cleaner, after all).
I'd do it again, and I think the clinic would make for a fun winter outing when hibernating indoors grows tiresome. A word of advice, though: Bring gloves. columbuscurling.com