Curling: a true gentleman’s sport

A community funspiel was held Nov. 8 at the Terrace Curling Club

Malcolm Hill

Curling is sometimes referred to as “chess on ice” – a game more about strategy than physical dominance.

Once curlers have the general skills down (having a feel for the rotation and weight of the rock as it’s sent down the ice, sweeping technique, following the skip’s instructions – or learning to skip themselves) the game becomes a tight back-and-forth that’s focussed on figuring out where to precisely place the rock inside the house (the bull’s-eyes at either end of the ice) to either earn a point, protect a point, or stop your opponents from earning a point. It’s very strategic – and, one can imagine, mentally rewarding.

The game becomes less strategic without the skills to back it up, as I discovered when I curled for the first time since middle school at the community bonspiel earlier this month (example: one of the more sympathetic teams we played against ended up telling us that every point we earned could count as two, hardly an equal meeting of the chess-on-ice minds). But, that didn’t make it any less fun.

And fun was literally the name of the game Nov. 8 at the Terrace Curling Club for the all-day annual community funspiel, a tournament that is less about standings than it is about introducing people to curling.

Twenty teams participated, an increase from last year, said curling club manager Donna Diana. And the day included curlers of all ages – there was at least one child under 10 on the ice – and skill levels.

“I think it went absolutely awesome, it was a really good turnout,” she said.

Several companies entered more than one team, and there were a number of new teams this year.

“We had the Lakelse Dragon Boat ladies out, that was kind of neat,” she said. “All North was new.”

At least two of the teams are now looking to join the league, which is part of the goal of the funspiel, and Diana is hoping more people will turn out for Tuesday morning drop-in and the Monday night novice league.

It’s the second year for the novice league, “a really good introduction, more or less one-on-one instruction,” she said. “They’re getting the skills they need and a lot of them will actually put a team in in January.”

That’s when the next big bonspiel happens, the Legion’s 60th. After that it’s the Ladies’ Valentines bonspiel in February and the Mens’ Loggers bonspiel in April.

“Curling is so nice because its one of the few sports where it doesn’t make a difference how old you are and it doesn’t make a difference how fit you are,” said Diana. “You can still curl.”

She said the oldest curler at the club is pushing 90, and the school program begins at Grade 4.

“We’ve got curlers that are all over the place,” she said. “You don’t have to be the best in shape person in the whole wide world to enjoy curling. That’s what I like about it.” She also likes that the sport teaches etiquette. “It’s one of the few gentleman’s sports still left out there. Everyone shakes each other’s hands, good game,” she said.

“And the kids are taught, in our junior program on Monday night, kids are taught the etiquette of the game. It’s a different breed of people. They’ve got that etiquette about them and it’s there in the game.”

The club is looking at hosting a Sunday league if they can get enough teams, and, for the singles, Diana noted that the club is “always looking for spares, too.

“You don’t need experience to curl, there are teams that will pick you up and say, come on out, join our Wednesday league or you can just get a game in here or there.”