When we visited Canada a few years ago, I was psyched, thinking I was finally in the land of curling and would get to try it for myself. I didn’t realize that all their curling clubs would be shut down for the summer, though. Womp, wooooomp! Since we live in the South, I wasn’t holding out much hope that I’d get to try curling anywhere locally since I didn’t think it was well-known in this area. To my surprise, this weekend my husband gifted me a “learn to curl” class at the Charlotte Curling Association which is less than 2 hours from our house!
Unlike many curling clubs that just rent space at ice houses or outdoor ice rinks, the facility in Charlotte is solely dedicated to curling, and we were impressed with the community they have created. The class was larger than I expected – we had about 30 people in total, some coming from 2+ hours away to participate.
When we arrived and got our waiver forms verified, we were then directed to choose some shoe grippers to put on. These keep you from slipping on the ice, and are worn over tennis shoes. I had on two layers of pants, warm socks, a warm shirt and a vest. In hindsight, I wish I had put on my gloves because my hands got chilly by the end of the class. Some people had on hats but not all.
We were then divided into groups of 8 and headed down to the ice where our instructors went over safety rules and first taught us how to sweep. After that, we took turns learning how to throw the rock. The move requires a deep lunge and was definitely harder than I expected to balance my body without slipping and get enough power to get the rock going far enough.
Once we all practiced throwing, we were then taught how to throw with a turn, something that is needed for placement during the game. There were 4 positions – lead, second, skip, and vice. We all got to take turns learning each of them and the skip was the one who would stand on the far end of the ice and provide direction to the one throwing on where to aim. After learning all the basics, we were able to play a few “ends”, where each team alternated throwing their stones to see who would end up with the most in the target area. I’m sure my terminology is lacking, but you get the gist. You can see me throwing the rock in the photo above and then learning to sweep in the photo below. I liked sweeping because you get to hustle and stay warm while listening to the vice tell you how long to keep going to get the rock where it needs to go.
The facility has a cozy (warm) lounge and bar area with screens that let you see close-ups of those on the ice, and you can watch through the plexiglass as well. My husband stayed in the lounge watching our baby and being my photographer while I learned.
You can check out their club schedule for Learn to Curl classes, tournaments, leagues and their popular evening Cocktails and Curling events as well! This club is completely volunteer run and not for profit, so I truly appreciate the dedication of all their members in sharing their love for the sport with newbies like myself. I highly recommend coming here if you live anywhere near Charlotte. Here are some other options for curling in the Carolinas, in case you’re curious. The class definitely has me wanting to try curling again and maybe even join the Gate City Curling league that takes place here in Greensboro!
Have you ever tried curling? Interested to hear your experience, if so!
Thanks for reading!