Master the basics with the Morgantown Curling Club just in time to appreciate the sport during the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Remember when the U.S. won its first gold medal ever in curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea? Jeff Ryan does. He was taken by the sport and decided to learn. But driving with friends up to Pittsburgh didn’t do it for him. “We spent more time driving there and back than we got on the ice.”
So, in December 2019, he started the Morgantown Curling Club.
Curling, in case you aren’t an obscure sports aficionado, is like “bocce on ice,” Ryan explains, in that players lob projectiles down lanes toward targets and try to get closer to the center than their opponents. Here’s how it works:
- The projectile is a polished, 44-pound, flattened sphere of granite with a handle. One player on a team of four stands at the distant target to signal the endpoint, and one “throws” the stone from the other end of the lane by sliding it toward the target. Then two run ahead of the stone, sweeping the ice vigorously to raise its temperature just a fraction, directing the stone and lengthening its path—while seemingly everyone yells directions like “Hurry!” “Hurry hard!” and “Whoa!”
- Strategy aims to block the other team’s shots and to knock its best shots away from the target. Two teams of four take turns until each player has thrown twice—that’s 16 throws, and it makes up an “end,” like an inning. Points are tallied: The team coming closest to the center scores a point for each stone that’s closer than the other team’s closest stone, for up to 8 points in an end.
- A match is 8 or 10 ends.
It’s a sport of finesse and fine teamwork, competitive but with a lot of good-natured camaraderie. There’s room for everyone.
When the MCC started out at the end of 2019, it barely got its insulated Teflon sliding shoes under it when COVID-19 hit. So this fall, it’s getting a second start with a series of Learn to Curl sessions, training people in the basics in the expectation of forming leagues to compete in the fall of 2022.
Upcoming Learn to Curl sessions—$50, or half off one session with membership—will take place 8–10 a.m. on Saturday, August 28, and 7–9 p.m. on Friday, September 10, at the Morgantown Ice Arena.