Curling League Week Two

Well, this week went better for the team and worse for me. I wasn’t feeling 100% up to playing because I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for the better part of a week, but we made a pretty strong showing and ended up in a 6-6 tie, so that’s one point for our team.

I’m a little sore this week compared to last—I think I warmed up too early, but I also think my body wasn’t completely over the fever, coughing, and sneezing it’s been through. We had the late game as well, so the first draw didn’t happen until close to 9:00.

A sample score sheet from our league. Which happens to be tonight's.

Based on the scoresheet, we did pretty well, stealing a total of four points in back-to-back ends and giving up only one steal of our own. Unfortunately, I didn’t seem able to get the job done when I had the hammer to close things out. The second end was a failed draw into the four-foot, the fifth end (where they took three) was the result of a horribly botched runback that did not clear out the house, but instead cleared out the only scoring rock we had (which was on the opposite side of the house).

And we should have had two in the seventh, but I shorted one draw to the button and on the final stone of the game I fell over onto my stomach and completely lost my line on the shot. I suppose I’m lucky we didn’t end up making things worse with that shot, instead failing to make good on the hammer. Practice makes perfect.

Our second saved the third end with a rather remarkable double take-out. It was really satisfying to call the shot and then watch him whip the stone in there and make it happen.

We have a week off next week, so I might try to get some pick-up gameplay on this weekend. The ice was much better this week compared to last, but because it’s arena ice it’s had some weird peculiarities where the stone will pick on a skate rut and then curl almost 90º. I really wish we had consistent ice—one of my shots actually curled the opposite way from the turn!

It was just shy of a win, but as with many things, it was a great time had by everyone who played and I once again feel like I’m getting better at it.

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Curling League Week One

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.