Since the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, Saturday nights have been a big draw for Incredible Ice skating rink in Coral Springs. Each week, Florida residents pack inside to experience something completely new. Inside, air temperatures hover around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and falling flat on your back (or face, or knee, or elbow…) is more of the norm than an anomaly. But cold and ice are not the only new experiences these Floridians come for; they’re here to curl.
Don’t know what curling is? Sure you do. What many consider to be the black sheep of Winter Olympic sports, it was on TV for nine hours every day of competition in Vancouver, so much so that the “C” in CNBC was given an entirely new meaning. Chances are, you probably caught an hour. Or two. Or ten.
I was able to participate in one of these Learn to Curl sessions back in April of 2010, and this sport is deceptively hard! Rick Patzke, the Chief Operating Officer of the US Curling Association, likens curling to winter golf. “Like golf…you can learn the basics of curling in half an hour, and then spend the rest of your life trying to perfect it,” he said.
“It’s like shuffleboard with a chess mentality,” says Craig Vaughan, one of the curling instructors at Incredible Ice. Leave it to a 35-year veteran to make it sound so simple.
Vaughan and his wife, Debbie, a fellow curler, moved to Coral Springs from Ottawa; Canada is the world’s curling central, and many Floridian curlers grew up there and simply relocated, taking their passion for curling with them. However, while I was there, I met a fellow first-timer from El Salvador. Not quite a curling capital!
Curling is a gentleman’s sport, with athletes calling their own infractions and doing the scoring themselves. The social aspect is a big part of the game, with opposing teams often frequenting a bar together after a match. Even in such an informal environment this attitude was palpable, as complete strangers bonded quickly, cheering each other’s shots and laughing good-naturedly at everyone’s spectacular falls, their own included. Participants were seen hobbling off the ice, wincing through their ever-present grins.
Still don’t think curling is a sport? Try it for yourself! For more information, go to www.saveologyiceplex.com or call 954-341-9956.