Our March adventure was new for all of us and in light of the recent Olympics, very timely. Yes you guessed it, curling. The history of curling is proud and long. The first written evidence of curling appeared in the year 1540 and what started as an enjoyable winter pasttime of throwing stones over ice to pass the long European winters, and the first recognized Curling Clubs were formed in Scotland. At the 1924 Olympics began gaining international prominance as a competitive sport.
The etiquette of the sport is very refreshing especially in these days and times of conduct in sports coming into question. Each match begins and ends with shaking your teams hands as well as the opposing team. I remember thinking when I would watch curling, that it was a bit of a mystery and wondered if anyone can learn. Well let me just answer that question, and the answer is yes. The terminology is very interesting, he area within the concentric circles at each end of the sheet is called “the house”. The small circle at the centre of the house is known as “the button”. The exact centre of the house is known as “the tee”. The specific ice surface upon which a curling game is played, is known as “the sheet”. The action of moving a broom or brush back and forth in front of the path of a moving stone to clean or polish the ice surface is of course known as “sweeping”. The player who directs play for the team is known as “the skip”. The first player on a team to deliver two stones in each end is known as “the lead”. The second curler on a team to deliver two stones in each end is known as “the second”. The third curler on a team to deliver two stones in each end, is known as “the third”. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone is known as “the takeout”.The curved path of a stone as it travels down the sheet of ice is known as “the curl. A team scores one point for each of its stones that is within the house and closer to the button than any stone of the opposing team. A curling competition or tournament is known as a “bonspiel”.
The Waupaca Curling Club, according to one of their members was formed in 1875. In the early days there was curling outdoors in the town square. The Waupaca Curling Club is located at 216 S. Franklin Street in Waupaca. We attended an open house, which they offer several times each year, an opportunity for the public to learn about curling and to try the sport with free instruction. Food & fun! I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect, but we forged ahead, and on Friday evening we walked into the Waupaca Curling Club. We were greeted at the sign-in table and one of the gentleman seated behind the sign in table had worked in Manawa for many years and I hadn’t seen him since his retirement and it was good to see Don there. In talking with Don, I learned that he curled with “a stick”, which has allowed many curlers to continue the sport well past the point that we start to get “the creaks” as we age. The traditional way to curl is by using a “slider” the slippery material placed on the sole of the sliding shoe, which makes it easier to slide on the ice. Your “slider” is the opposite, if your right handed, your “slider” is your left foot and vice versa. The player crouches down with their feet in “the hack”, which is the foot-hold at each end of the ice which is used by a player to start the delivery of a curling stone, and for lack of a better word, while your holding onto the stone, you shoot out of the crouching position and with momentum travel down to the “hog line”, which is a line extending across the width of the sheet that is parallel to and located 6.40 m. (21 ft.) from each tee line. Now whether you want the stone to curl clockwise or counter clockwise, depends on how you release the stone. It reminds me of when you are shooting pool and you put some “english” on a pool shot, the same applies in curling. If you release the stone with your hand or stick moving to the left, then you will putting a counter clockwise curl on the stone. To the right, clockwise spin. By far the most challenging part of curling, at least for me, was or is the sweeping. To stay in front of the stone is certainly not as easy as it looks when your watching a match.
We split into two groups once the basic premise of curling and the terms were explained. Those who were releasing the stone in the more traditional manner, and myself who was using the stick. My reason for using the stick is really two fold. #1. The old gray mare just ain’t what she used to be. #2 One person physically challenged in our house is enough at any given time. So I was taught how to curl using the stick from a gentleman who has been curling for 6 years, Nigel, he was a really great teacher. Very patient, very knowledgable and really just enjoys curling. Don, who I mentioned earlier, also helped. Diana had started in the traditional group, and then joined us to try her hand at using the stick. Just like cross country skiing, she is a natural. Ann chose to stay in the traditional group and she did well, she wound up on the ice a couple of times in the way none of us like to connect with the ice, but she hung in there and did great.
The members of the Waupaca Curling Club really enjoy getting together. There are various leagues, some are more for fun, some are more serious curling going on. Barb, one of the members I spoke with, said this winter, they came in to curl just to warm up. Nearly every day of the week there is something happening at the Curling Club.
Sunday Night – Mixed League – play begins at 4:00pm
Monday Night – Open League- play begins at 6:30.
Tuesday Night – Womens’ League – play begins at 6:30.
Wednesday Night – Men’s League – Play starts at 6:30.
Wednesday Morning- Casual Curling – open league for whoever shows up. Socializing starts at 9:00 Play begins at 9:30.
Thursday Night – Men’s League – Play starts at 6:30.
Friday Night – 6:00 pm. Friday Curl and Fry, part of Casual Curling program, guests welcome, selected nights, see calendar page. Open format, curl a six end game and then go out for fish.
Saturday Night – NEW! Select Saturdays: Play begins 5:00, Social to follow. www.curlwaupaca.com you can see Calendar tab for start-up and schedule dates.
The Curling Club offers Bonspiels through the year as well.
Women’s Blaze Orange Bonspiel: “The BOB”. An annual event held on the opening weekend of deer hunting.
Senior Men’s Bonspiel – Held in early December for curlers age 55 and up. This is a fast moving two day spiel with a sixteen team limit, so sign early.
Men’s Bonspiel - Great food, fast ice, competition, entertainment and an open bar make this a spiel you shouldn’t miss. Held the last weekend in January.
Roarin’ Rookie Bonspiel-This is an intra-club spiel held in early February, and is designed to give new curlers a taste for bonspieling. Each team must have at least one rookie, and those with more than one get a handicap. Guests are welcome, especially those who haven’t curled before or who have been away from the game. Sign up early, as this event fills quickly.
I continue to meet the nicest people who love what they do and what Waupaca County has to offer for recreation. Explore what is in your own backyard here in Waupaca County, I guarantee you will learn things you didn’t know were even here.
The adventure continues all over Waupaca County.