Posted: Oct 16, 2012 5:08 PM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News
Updated: Oct 17, 2012 7:28 AM
BILLINGS - It's a sport that originated in Scotland back in the 16th century and since then the game of curling has come a long way.
More than one and half million people worldwide participate in the ice sport every year.
"I just love curling," said longtime curler Darryl Sobering. "I've curled for maybe 20 years growing up. I started when I was about 10."
In an effort to introduce the sport to Billings, Sobering hosted the first-ever curling clinic here in the Magic City last weekend.
Dozens turned out for the event at the Centennial Ice Arena.
Some were inspired by watching the sport on the world's largest athletic stage, while others simply signed up for the clinic out of curiosity.
"I watched curling on the Olympics and it looked like a lot of fun," explained Pete Bolenbaugh.
But 16-year-old Matthew Hagen hadn't even seen the sport played before.
"I didn't know a thing about it until now," the Billings teen admitted.
Regardless of what brought them out, everyone on the ice quickly learned their first lesson in curling.
"It's a lot harder than it looks," said Hagen.
"I honestly thought it would all be easy. I thought I would just have a few beers and go throw a few stones," Bolenbaugh said. "But I'm sweaty by the end of this. It's definitely a lot of work."
According to Sobering, that is the biggest misconception about the sport.
"I think a lot of people think it's really easy, they can just come out and throw a stone and they'll be a curler," said Sobering. "I think some people learned today, it's a little harder than that."
On the 4-person team you have a lead (the one who throws the stone), two sweepers (referred to as second and third), and one skip (a.k.a. the strategist).
"My favorite part would be sweeping," said Hagen.
"Throwing," Sobering chimed in. "When you're actually throwing the stone is the most fun in my opinion."
"I actually like the sweeping the best because you got to run up and down the ice," Bolenbaugh said.
In short, the point of the game is to successfully send the granite stone down the 146-foot "sheet of ice," having it come to a stop within the 12-foot diameter "house," as close to the center "tee" as possible.
In each round, eight stones are thrown by each team, two stones per player.
"There's eight rounds typically in a league game," Sobering explained. "Which takes about two hours."
Not only does the sport require precision, flexibility, speed and strength, it also requires balance while running on ice - something I'm not very graceful at.
Despite the minor bumps and bruises you may acquire on day one, Sobering insists that practice makes perfect.
"Probably just like any other sport, you need some time practicing your technique," Sobering pointed out. "A little bit of flexibility is always good."
Ultimately, Sobering hopes the clinic is a stepping stone to a Curling Club in Billings.
"My goal is to get some leagues started," he said. "So we can play either for fun or competitive, whatever you're looking for, every week."
And he seems to have some support following the October 13 & 14 clinics.
"I liked it, I would join a club if they had one," said Hagen.
Bolenbaugh agreed, "I think I'm going to have to come back and try it again."
So, if you're wanting a new pastime that includes fitness, finesse and fun, curling might be the adventure you're looking for.