Curling is on everyone’s minds these days. I heard of the sport in the 1940’s when my father went to see the curling rink a farmer had set up at his farm. It really didn’t catch on. The first time I curled was, way back when, as a young wife and mother, I was coaxed into joining the Powder Puff derby in La Ronge. It was fun.
That’s where I learned how to throw a good take-out weight. Well, it actually was just to get it across the hog line. We didn’t have artificial ice and on a nice day, the side softened and got sticky.
We were all on equal footing because frozen bumps on the ice from dripping condensation messed up everyone’s game equally. I was the lead for our rink so I had to learn how to set up guards in front of the house, to protect our stones. I was never too good at draw weight, but thanks to La Ronge, I could throw a good take-out shot.
I didn’t curl again for a few years until we moved to Moosomin and again I got drawn in by some good friends. I had to decide if I really wanted to curl or not to curl. I decided to curl. I bought a Teflon slider to use as needed. And, yes, I did put it on the wrong foot at times and landed flat on my face. I spent hours diligently learning how to slide, how to put a curl on a rock, the difference between an inside or outside curl, how to sweep without tripping over other rocks and when to sweep or not to sweep. While I was learning the finer details of curling my kids were Jam Can Curling at school. You might want to explain that to your grand kids.
Things were primitive back then. We used straw brooms and there was a reason why the skip yelled, CLEAN! CLEAN! CLEAN! Lest you think I became a great curler, I faintly remember winning a set of steak knives at a bonspiel once.
Then came the day when people started using the ‘Rink Rat’, a fabric broom that made an impressively loud whop, whop, whop sound. Now the sweeping is done with a brush and one of the much-loved sounds of curling has disappeared.
The granite for curling rocks comes from Scotland and Wales. The Kays of Scotland did the last harvest of Ailsa Craig granite in 2001. They provide granite for all the Olympic Rocks and have harvested enough granite to meet the need until 2020. A quarry in Northern Wales supplies, or did supply, the Trefor granite for our Canada Curling Stone Co. Today curlers know the characteristic of every individual rock. I’m glad I’m not curling anymore. I’m not good at math!
Avid curlers wore fancy curling sweaters and had shoes with the Teflon slider built-in. In all my years of curling I never advanced to the level of elite clothing. I will close by mentioning that heart-breaking change in the sport when the Norwegian Olympic curlers appeared wearing excruciatingly loud plaid pants. Tragic!
Enough reminiscing! I have a curling game to watch.