Curling comes to Oakland
By Tommy Tran
The Oakland Ice Center is giving curling lessons to the public on Saturdays on behalf of the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club.
Curling is a 500 year old Scottish sport which is played on ice and uses brooms and stones. The objective of the game is to get the stone as close to the target as possible. The team that has the stone closest to the target scores a point. The team with the highest score wins. Each player makes two throws per round, and the game lasts for 8-10 rounds.
There are four players on each of the two teams.. The “skip” is the team captain, who goes into the target and makes all the calls, instead of sweeping. The third lead, also known as the “vice skip,” has the same roles as the first and second leads, who slide the stones toward the target.
For the Saturday curling sessions, the ice in the rink is different than the ice used to play hockey or for ice skating. People can actually walk on this ice without slipping and people didn’t need to wear ice skates. Before participants played an actual game, the instructors taught the participants how to slide and aim the stones at the target. Participants used special curling slippers to slide across the ice and a black starting-block called a “hack” to launch themselves across the ice. It was difficult to put all the steps together, but the participants caught on quickly, even though a few people fell down when they slid across the ice.
Member, volunteer, instructor, and curling club board director Colleen Buyer said that “the club started Saturday lessons in May and hope to continue through the summer to offer students a good summer Saturday activity to keep cool.”
According to Buyer, the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club also plays their games in San Jose and Fremont. They have leagues from Tuesdays through Fridays with lessons and one-time learn-to-curl clinics on Saturdays. The club will also host a curling tournament over the Memorial Day weekend called the Golden Gate Bonspiel. The curling club is also beginning to visit local schools to use curling to teach principles of math and science.
Bishop O’Dowd High school freshmen and volunteer Catey Hoen helps give lessons for the curling club and still takes lessons from the club. Hoen described her experience of having curling lessons and attending high school at the same time.
“Curling to me is very relaxing, it gave me a chance to stop worrying about grades and such,” said Hoen. “At my school, sports are very intense and I did not want to participate in 5 a.m. practices every other day.”
Winter Olympic curling player Christoffer Svae recently taught at one of the Club’s advanced curling clinics at Berkeley High School. Svae said that he really worked hard for many years to get into the Winter Olympics and commented that his experience was “awesome.” Svae offered some curling tips, saying that there was no secret to getting good except practice.
“Work hard every day and ask yourself: ‘Have I practiced best in the world today?’” said Svae.
When Oakland High students were asked about their opinions on curling, they looked surprised because they had never heard of the sport.
“[Curling] sounds fun,” said junior Shannon Voong. “I guess I could try it out.”
For people who are interested in curling, Buyer provided this message.
“Come try it! It’s often quite different than people expect, and a fun activity to do with groups of friends or a date,” said Buyer. “Everyone starts out being equally terrible, and they all get better together. And remember, it only takes four people to start a curling team.”