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Curling Day in Canada

Memoirs of Curling

January 23, 2022

“This is a very important shot!” the Skip warns, setting my target. Tipping the 44-pound
piece of granite over, I caress and clean the running surface. The routine each curler invokes
before throwing the stone is their fingerprint.
Curlers are as diverse, as a group of athletes can be. The game’s origin in 16th century
Scotland included sport, drink, and revelry — triplets never to be parted — these tenets of the
game remain. It is accessible to anyone who enjoys sportsmanlike competition and the endless
debates that flow along with the obligatory beverages after each game. The sport requires
considerable athletic strength and coordination masterminded by the mental acuity to read the
ice, stones, and minds.
“This side has a run, so we need soft take-out, or it will fall.” the Skip advises. Sitting in
the hack, I envision the invisible slope creating the run on the path I am about to propel the
granite down. I have a nano-second to calibrate this shot. Concentrate. Inhale…, exhale…, push
out on the broom, apply the turn, release clean, hope for the precise weight.
“Right up the pipe!” cheers the Skip. I deliver on almost all counts.
“Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” the Skip yells from the house. Sweepers plunge their brooms
onto the ice in front of the rock and summon every ounce of strength, energy, and will, down
through the broom and onto the frozen runway. A Saskatchewan High Hard One requires they
keep pace with a piece of granite going feet per second; heads down, leaning precariously on
their broom, they propel themselves over sheer ice.
“Curl, curl, CURL!”
“Woah, WOAH!”
“Yes, Yes – Nooo, NO”
“It’s falling! Where is it?”
“T-line! – No – back-house?”
The rap-like song of the Sweepers relays critical information to the Skip. Instinctive
choreography manoeuvers the rotating granite into and out of the curl, skimming the guard and
hitting the target stone.
“Nice shot!!” It’s the chorus you hoped to hear.
Curling is an outstanding sport. It is an intellectual, international, intergenerational, co-ed
game that can be played throughout life. In my decades of curling, I have made many friends
and a few noteworthy and respected foes. I recall many bonspiels, costumes, and white knuckle
drives through blizzards. There are some losses I continue to re-write in my mind, including a
1-0, A Event final. Plenty of wins, several trophies, — and that once in a lifetime — 8 Ender