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Published: Tuesday, 1/12/2010

Curling club hopes to hike public's interest in sport

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — Members of a local curling club, including some who will trek to Vancouver to watch competitors in the Winter Olympics, are opening the ice to the public.

Nothing draws interest to the sport of stones and circles more than the Games, noted Mike Nelson of the Bowling Green Curling Club. The club is about 100 strong, and those members, he said, are excited about the Winter Olympics.

Although the Olympics won't feature any local competitors, some club members plan to attend events in Vancouver in February to watch the world's best curlers, Mr. Nelson said.

The club has scheduled open sessions in Bowling Green to coincide with the Winter Games, during which the public can learn about curling.

Typically interest in the sport spikes as a result of the Olympics, he said, and he noted that people who never have given curling a thought suddenly find themselves fascinated by the action on the ice.

The game of curling is more than 500 years old, The earliest written record of curling — of people sliding stones on frozen ponds and lochs — is found at Scotland's Paisley Abbey and date to 1541, according to the Vancouver Web site for the Olympics.

Curling for men was played at the first Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix, France, in 1924, but curling did not appear again as an official Olympic sport until the Nagano 1998 Winter Games with both men's and women's tournaments, according to the Vancouver Web site.

During the Winter Games, curling consists of two tournaments: one for women's, the other for men.

Players slide heavy stones down a sheet of ice toward a series of concentric circles. The object is to get the stones as close to the center. Team members sweep the ice to control the stone's direction, known as its “curl,” and the stone's sliding distance. The team with the most points — more stones closer to the center — is the winner.

Following other Winter Games the curling club has offered open sessions, and those have been well attended, according to Mr. Nelson, who handles publicity for the club.

This year the club has scheduled open curls on successive Fridays and Saturdays during and immediately following the Olympic coverage.

Instructional Leagues are scheduled for the two weeks following the open curls for those who want to improve their game.

For those who want to, as Mr. Nelson put it, “avoid the Olympic rush,” the club is offering an open curl from 7-9 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Bowling Green State University Ice Arena on Mercer Road in Bowling Green.

The club is based at the ice arena. When the ice arena was built in 1967, a curling rink was included on the southern wing of the building. It has four sheets of ice and a curling lounge designed for viewing the sport.

Other open curling dates and times are 7 p.m. Feb. 19, noon Feb. 20, 7 p.m. Feb. 26, and noon Feb. 27. Also, there will be 2 and 4 p.m. sessions on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27.

The club is asking people to pre-register if possible so everyone doesn't show up at the same time. Only so many people can be on the ice at one time, said club President Gary Saddler, who noted information about pre-registration will be available soon on the club's Web site, bgcurlingclub.com.

Curling is a sport that can be learned in a short time. It is also a sport that can be played for years. The club starts curlers at about age 8; many curlers play into their 80s.

The typical open curl offered by the club has members giving basic instruction, including how to deliver the stone, followed by a short game. All equipment is furnished.

Cost is $10 per person. Warm, comfortable clothing is recommended. The air temperature in the ice arena is about 40 degrees.

Participants are asked to bring clean athletic shoes.

Contact Janet Romaker at:jromaker@theblade.com or 419-724-6006.



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