If you have been one of the lucky ones to have tried curling in Churchill while on a wildlife adventure to see polar bears or perhaps the northern lights you have surely had some fun and laughs. The game is slowly spreading in popularity throughout the United States but still remains an enigma to most outside of Canada.
Here are a few secret tips to Churchill curling at the rink inside the town complex. if you have not yet ventured to Churchill, try and include this activity in a future trip to the polar bear capitol of the world.
1. – Unless you know the caretaker of the curling rink personally it will first be a little tricky to even find the somewhat hidden location of the rink and confirm that the ice is in place. Yes, it’s in the town complex but the entrance is located in a less frequented hallway with no exterior windows to view in.
2. – The rules of the game are fairly complex and it will be impossible to pick them all up in one session. The main thrust of the game is to “throw”…rather glide on the ice, eight stones weighing 42 lbs. with handles and try to get closest to the middle “target” button or painted spot underneath the ice. There’s quite a bit of strategy to all the throws leading up to the final stone for each team of four.
3.– Understand that “sweeping” is not the kind you do in your home to clean up. Sweeping in curling involves two of the four teammates sliding ahead of the stone, with special shoe pads, and a special broom, that more accurately resembles a padded squeegee. The idea is to adjust the sweeping in front of the “stone” to manage the speed and for the really experienced sweepers even the direction to a slight degree. I was able to play this position in a local fun “bonspiel” in Churchill once and found it to be very fun and incredibly effective when you get the hang of it.
4. – When the skip, the person who throws the stones, yells “hurry”, it is quite entertaining and unique to this sport. What he/she is requesting is for the sweepers to sweep faster in front of the stone and therefore create a smoother and faster surface. The stone will increase in speed by a very slight amount though this may be the difference in a winning shot.
5. – Don’t touch the stones until the shot is over. This includes the sweepers and any teammates waiting at the end of the sheet for the stone to arrive near the target. If anyone on a team touches the stone, even with a broom, the shot is disqualified. Bad etiquette.
6. – The curling lounge is almost as important as the curling rink itself. Churchill’s club lounge is a glass enclosed facility that is heated and overlooks the rink from above. A huge part of the curling experience is the camaraderie before, during and after the game or games are being played. Churchill, being such a tight knit town in a generally cold weather environment, especially tends to unite through this activity and gathering space.
7. – Plan on an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. This very well could be the only time in your life that you can experience the fun of playing this age – old sport. When I participated in the tournament in Churchill I was convinced I would return home to the US and find a curling club to join…that was 10 years ago and I still have not played the game again. I did return with a trophy since I was paired up with some of the town’s best curlers. Enjoy it while you have an opportunity!