Curling: The Best Thing You’ve Ever Been The Worst At!



There are not many places where it is encouraged to scream “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD!” at the top of your lungs. Thankfully, as of early December, Buffalo has become one of those places. The long awaited Buffalo RiverWorks opened its ice surfaces recently, much to the celebration of local rink rats. The twin rinks are both set up for hockey, but one magical surface is decorated for the region’s newest obsession – curling.

There is a good chance you’ve watched a curling match or two recently; there is a surge of interest every four years when the Winter Olympic Games are played – and for good reason! The game is presented in such a manner that the mechanics look fairly easy. Of all of the sports represented, the athletes that compete in curling seem to be the most…average. Indeed, curling is the sport of the everyman (or everywoman,) and it’s finally laid down some roots here on the shores of the Buffalo River.

That rock didn't make it past the blue line...

That rock didn’t make it past the blue line…

Having experienced firsthand the awkwardness of trying to throw your first rock (the 40lb slabs of granite that are the game pieces for this sport), I can honestly say that TV makes this sport look infinitely easier than it actually is. From watching, I assumed my body would easily find the proper form, but as I drew back the rock, for my first shot, and pushed off toward the center of the ice, I realized that all of my preparation – which involved little more than watching, beer in hand, and thinking, “Hey! I can do that!” — was for naught. I tried to draw my knee up under myself for balance, but my shoes gripped the cobbled ice, and I dropped to both knees, prematurely releasing the rock and resulting in much sound and fury, all which signified nothing.

Thankfully for myself and my teammates on the OFW Hacks, the Buffalo Curling Club had generously donated their time and equipment to teach us the fundamentals of the game, so my embarrassment took place at a practice and not in the heat of battle. As the practice progressed, I became a little surer of myself and developed a skill set that was barely passable.

Stability is key when pushing off out of the hack.

Stability is key when pushing off out of the hack.

Following several failed attempts to throw a rock, we were encouraged to practice sweeping. Now, THIS, I was good at. All of those years in fast food had been good for something, and as I slipped down the ice, accompanying my teammate’s rock, I swept with such a furor that I added AT LEAST a couple of feet to the throw!

Finally, the instructors felt we were prepared enough to try a practice end. A match is separated into ends, with the teams alternating back and forth until all 16 rocks have been thrown. The goal is to finish the end with your rock closest to the center of the house (the concentric circle patterns at either side of the ice) – the closest stone of all of them scores a point. There were few players at the practice, so we partnered up and played 2-on-2. Each of our teams threw five rocks – most of which did not make it into the scoring area. Ultimately, my team lost the end when the last rock (the hammer) was drawn closest to the center of the house.

Lessons were learned that day. Curling is really, really hard. OK, well, maybe it’s not that hard, but it was very difficult for me. And it was great fun! I never had such a good time being terrible at a sport. I am the guy who, after being on the ice for the seventh goal against, skated toward the bench throwing off layers of my hockey equipment like some dejected extra from Slapshot. Today, though, we all had a great deal of fun displaying our complete lack of skill. As the session came to a close, we learned the most valuable lesson of all. We were informed that in match play, the winning team buys the losing team the first round! Finally, being the Chicago Cubs of all of the bar-league sports my friends and I play will pay off!

Curling into the house.

Curling into the house.

The Buffalo Curling Club calls RiverWorks their home, and their goal is to spread the love of the game. Leagues began a short session and play finishes up this week, so registration is open for the next session. You can find more information about registering here. Also, the club will be holding open ice sessions on Monday and Tuesday for the next couple of weeks. (12/22, 12/23, 12/29, 12/30). They will have a 6-7:45p session & a 8-9:45p session. Cost will be $25/person & lessons will be provided to those new to curling. To reserve your spot, please email w/ Subject: HOLIDAY CURLING. You must include Day & Time you want to play, your full name, address, and phone number. If bringing others, please include Full Names of all participants.

Get in early for these open sessions and for league play. RiverWorks will be home to a brewery, three bars, and the viciously entertaining Queen City Roller Girls. They’re also slated to host the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament in February. All of these attractions and events would be amazing to experience all on their own, but RiverWorks is a convergence of all of them in one place – revitalized industrial carcasses, repurposed for maximum awesomeness. Make sure you’re part of the action. Grab some friends and some brooms, and get started on the best thing you’ve ever been the worst at!


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One Comment on “Curling: The Best Thing You’ve Ever Been The Worst At!”

  1. erikwollschlager December 18, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Reblogged this on ewollschlager and commented:


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