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Last month, I participated in a Learn to Curl session and one pick-up game at the U.S. Ice Sports Complex here in the Metro East area. After each session, I found myself in a quite a bit of pain for the next few days as curling uses a few muscle groups most people don’t normally exercise. However, above all, it was ridiculously fun and I had a great time learning how it works.

The curling there is a product of the St. Louis Curling Club, which is a relatively new venture here in the St. Louis area—and one I fully support.

Upon hearing that they were going to offer a short (four-week) league this winter, I decided that it would be a good idea to sign up, meet some people, have some friendly competition, and get some exercise. (You can see the current league schedule here if you’re interested.)

I was placed on a team with three other guys, none of whom had played a full end of curling yet, so by default I was skipping, which I’d hoped to avoid both because I wanted the exercise of playing earlier in the rink and because I was hoping there would be someone on the team with more experience than myself. They were pretty nice guys and had a good sense of humor about things, which was good to see. As far as I know, we had a great time.

We unfortunately lost our first match 7-4, including an end where the other team stole two from us. I think I just need more practice; as skip, I should have been able to stop that steal, but I had a hard time with draw weight as the ice became much faster through the evening. In the pickup game last month, I had a lot of trouble with hogged stones. By the end of the night, I felt like I’d been able to dial in some heavier weight and the last two deliveries of the last end we played ended up being heavy weight takeouts that resulted in a three-ender to close out the night.

One guy in the bleachers even applauded the second-last shot. That felt kind of awesome.

So far, it’s been nice and I’m happy I signed up for it. The only problem I have with the league is that there’s no practice ice for participants; if we want to practice on non-league nights, we have to pay $15 to do a pick-up game on Friday night. Personally, I think if we’re forking over $160 to play in a five-week league (with one bye week), I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one or two nights during the week where we can have some curling ice and just practice making shots. That’s a lot of money to pay for not a lot of time on the ice to get better at the sport.

I also haven’t had the muscle pain this week that I’ve had in previous weeks. This time, I warmed up with some dynamic stretching and light cardio about for about 10 minutes starting 30 minutes before game time, and I adjusted my diet to include some protein very soon after I was done playing and also the next day. I probably would be in some pain if I’d been sweeping more often, as my core muscles still hurt a bit, but this time I felt a lot better and I wasn’t as beat after we were done (we managed to get in seven ends).

Here’s to next week.

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