In my youth, the only curlers I knew were the rags my mother used to put in my hair. I was vaguely aware that my BFF’s brother was a curler, but I cannot say I was interested enough to find out anything about the sport. In fact, I’m not sure it was much of a sport back then.
My husband was a great curler in his youth, representing his club in the provincial playdowns several times. His teenaged years were consumed with curling. His knowledge of and passion for the game, not to mention the numerous trophies that we have in our home, (those were the days when no one but the winner got a trophy) taught me all about the game. Not just the logistics of the game, but how difficult it is (here in Canada) to be the best team in your club let alone your zone, province, or country. That degree of difficulty has not changed. It might be even tougher as there are so many good teams out there.
My two eldest sons started curling at the age of four. They both curled locally for years, coached by their father. The younger of the two was not as passionate about the sport as the elder who also went on to curl competitively including representing our area in the provincials. Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of his dad, his curling days took a back seat to his goal of becoming a civil engineer. Both sons learned a lot on the curling ice, including leadership, team play, and communication skills. Both developed friendships that have lasted over the years. In fact, my eldest son met his new wife within the first few years of his curling career. They both still curl at the same RCC although she is currently taking a hiatus to give birth to their first child!
Gone are the days, however, where drinking beer (adults only of course) and munching on junk food after the game were the highlights of the sport, at least at the competitive level. Today, teams and individuals are known for their fitness level, mental endurance, and strategically amazing shots. Sorry Ed Werenich, but the days of the belly hanging over the belt as you crouch on the ice to throw your shot are long gone.
Watching the mixed doubles category in the winter Olympics this week, it is obvious that these curlers definitely have to be physically fit athletes to compete at this level today. With just two (traditional curling has four) curlers per team, they are throwing a rock, then quickly jumping up to sweep it down the ice towards the house. I broke out in a (nervous) sweat watching them, especially the gold medal game between Canada and Switzerland. The pairing of Canada’s John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes were spectacular to watch as they brought home the gold.