Video: Emily Brustoski
Set to upbeat, synthetic country music left on from the preceding open skate, the Miami Curling Club hosted a “learn to curl” event at Goggin last Friday night.
Just in time to capitalize on the spectacle of the Winter Olympics, the event served to offer interested Miamians a chance to experiment with the unusual sport.
A myriad of people walked warily out onto the ice as a professional from the Cincinnati Curling Club showed them how to send the curling stones spinning down the rink and informed them of the best techniques for avoiding wiping out in the process.
I waddled out onto the slippery ice with the rest of the crowd and did my best to mimic the actions of the pro. Although I couldn’t come anywhere close to matching the fluidity and accuracy of the instructor, and my knee collided with the ice more times than I care to recall, I eventually learned how to consistently send the stone down the ice and have it end up in at least the same county as the target ring.
When it came time to learn how to sweep, the action that maintains the stone’s momentum and directs it toward the goal, we were all handed plastic “brooms,” which were really more akin to giant squeegees on long handles.
As the stone sped toward us, I channeled my inner window washer and fervently raked the broom across the sheer white surface of the ice. The action was surprisingly taxing and by the end of the night, having swept up and down the rink several times, I found myself soundly out of breath but far more confident in my ability to wield a broom like a pro.
This event was one of two that the Miami Curling Club hosts each semester, both acting as recruitment drives and efforts to bolster interest in the club.
Andrew Dudt, co-founder of the club, said he hopes to get people interested in the sport and eventually form an official team.
“My whole family curls, and I’ve been doing it for most of my life,” Andrew said.
His lifelong commitment to the sport was evident in his technique, as he could send the curling stone flying across the ice, well past the point that the amassed novices could reach.
Andrew co-founded the club with Kyle Armstrong, who attended a “learn to curl” event last year and became fascinated with the sport. Andrew’s experience and Kyle’s interest form a solid foundation for what they hope will be a successful club.
This is only the second year of the club’s existence and, as such, the two recruitment drives are the only events the club hosts. In lieu of formal practices, Andrew hopes the events will provide a good opportunity for people who are unfamiliar with the sport to gain some experience and have a good time.
Prior to the founding of Miami’s Curling Club, the Cincinnati Curling Club sponsored the “learn to curl” events at Miami. The goal of the events in the past was simply to give interested participants a way to dip their toes in the water and learn a thing or two about curling. With the recent advent of Miami’s club, the Cincinnati Curling Club has partnered with Andrew and Kyle to hopefully create a more lasting curling scene at Miami.
The club’s second event is held on Green Beer Day, and despite the seemingly apparent clash of interests on that day, Andrew said that the second event has been the more popular of the two in past years.
Sarah Walton, a Miami student who previously attended the Green Beer Day event and last Friday’s event, spoke as to why she came back for a second exposure.
“It looks kind of funny when you’re just watching it,” she said. “But once you start playing, you want to keep going.”
Despite my initial hesitation to give the sport a try, by the end of the evening, I completely agreed with Sarah. Like grasping the basic concepts of a new language, learning the fundamentals of curling felt like piecing together a puzzle that was previously shrouded in mystery.
It’s that mixture of curiosity and enjoyment that the Miami Curling Club hopes to foster in coming years.