So, I’m not in shorts here … but the article needs at least one picture. And yes, Elvis was the alternate for our team.
I started curling here in Chicago around April. I picked up curling shortly after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and found a learn to curl southwest of Chicagoland at Waltham Curling Club. I immediately fell in love with the sport.
My third-ever curling experience was at a curling club that will remain unmentioned. It was a pick-up game, and I curling with several people with a lot of years of experience. When I mean a lot … well, yea. Anyway … there are a few ho-hum experiences that I’ve come across:
Getting in a fender bender on my way to curling (ended up costing about $2,500)
Totally choking in front of a pretty woman at an important game
Getting grief for dragging my knee and causing imprints in the ice from this one guy
As a new curler, I’ll admit my form was a bit to be desired. Now, keep in mind, the other curlers were trying to help me out and pointing different things that I was doing. This guy was just an angry man, muttering under his breath the whole day.
Fast forward to May. Just a little bit of a back-story, I am the Marketing Manager at Raging Waves Waterpark … and May is my busy time. I spent most of the day working to get the park ready for opening day, so I was in shorts. I would leave the park to head off to curling, just grabbing my windbreaker. And, the first time I did this … I didn’t even think about it.
Another picture that really isn’t related … but blogs need photos!
I pull into the club, and realize that all I have to curl in are shorts. But, with the temps being warm and being outside all day. I figured, why not?
Honestly, it wasn’t that bad either. I have about 15 years of hockey experience under my belt as well, so I’ve spent plenty of time on the ice.
The one thing I noticed, I wasn’t dragging my knee. It was almost instinctive, I didn’t want to set my kneecap down on the ice. Even popping myself up after a delivery, I wasn’t setting my knee down. My delivery improved, and I was getting better at the game. I did it for a few weeks, until the waterpark was officially opened (and I spent more of my time in the office in dress pants).
The bad habit was broken! I kept delivering without dragging my knee.
If you want to try breaking this habit, and don’t mind the cold, try this technique. See if it works for you!
Dan Mulka is a member and guest blogger for Windy City Curling. He’s also a member of Chicago Curling Club. He’s found out that its a lot less painful to curl than taking pucks to the head as a 15-year-plus amateur beer league hockey goalie.
DON’T MISS WINDY CITY CURLING’S OPEN HOUSE! We will be holding a FREE Open House on Saturday, April 4 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Come learn more about the sport of curling, including your chance to get out on the ice! Click here for more information and to register. LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE!
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Although I’ve always wanted to, I have never had the opportunity to do much traveling.
That is one intriguing thing about curling. When “The Big Spiel” was announced, I thought this would make a good road trip. Rounding up a team, Windy City Curling made its way to Minnesota.
We lucked out in terms of weather. Although, Phil was ready for anything.
We left on early on a Thursday and missed a lot of the snow storms that hit the area. Only a couple bad spots.
The drive went pretty quick. Lots of talk about curling, the hope of expanding our club, and some international curling (which Phil is an expert about). The first hour of tunes went to Phil, the driver – meaning French country music. None of us in the car, including Phil, speak French. Most of the drive, luckly, was dedicated to 80’s and 90’s rap and hip-hop.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN MINNESOTA
One of the highlights of the trip was heading to the Xcel Energy Center to see the Chicago Blackhawks square off against the Minnesota Wild. Greg and Phil were in full-blown Chicago regalia … meanwhile yours truly is actually a Detroit fan. So, I was rooting for Minnesota.
For those who didn’t know, Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts) was born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Meanwhile, outside the weather was a bit nasty. The Minnesota faithful were a bit late getting there. I’m guessing at puck drop, the stadium wasn’t half full.
It was really cool having Jessica Schultz from the US Olympic Team join us for the game! Flashing back, I was able to interview Jess about a year ago for the blog. We kept in touch throughout the year, and she was able to join us for the game. The weather caused her and her friend Lysa to miss the first period, but they made it just as the Wild scored their first goal of the night.
Pictured (left to right): Lysa, Jessica, Dan, Phil, Greg, Greg’s friend
It was cool to get to know Jessica more. You could tell in her eyes and smile that she just has this natural spark for life, which was really cool. She was heading to Honduras the week after on a mission trip – she works as a Physical Therapy Assistant. Heard more about her future, getting ready for a half marathon on more. Truly, an awesome person. Everyone, stop now and go buy a Rock Life hoodie.
CLUBS AND FOOD (probably a little too much about food)
The Big Spiel took place in three different clubs in the Twin Cities area.
Four Seasons Curling Club
Four Seasons Curling Club is the home of the US National Team Performance Center and Curling Night in America. This was also the first rink we visited in our trip to Minnesota. (Notice in the picture how the left-most sheet is empty — let’s just say the game went quickly). The club definitely felt new, almost having the “new car smell.” It was a great sheet of ice, and interestingly had sponsor logos in the houses. I’d say that this was a distraction, but out team definitely had a bit of nerves (a bit of a theme for the trip).
But, lets talk about food. The ongoing joke leading up to the bonspiel was the search for a Jucy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed burger). We had one at Gabe’s, the restaurant at the Club. The Jucy Lucy is a brilliant invention, as I’ve always disliked restaurants that throw a cold piece of cheese on a burger. Gabe’s had some truly tasty food, including the gouda fries which one of our competitors had. The walleye fries sounded good as well.
St. Paul Curling Club
Eight sheets of ice for 1,200 members – St. Paul Curling Club is the largest curling club in America. Although I have very little experience in curling, this felt like the home of curling. This two-story club features a great restaurant and bar one the second floor. Uniquely, this club’s second-floor men room actually had a window view to the curling ice below. I was a bit worried that I’d accidentally step too far back from the ‘privacy wall’ at the urinal …
Now, my favorite meal of the trip — even surpassing the Jucy Lucy (yes, that’s spelled correctly) and the Walleye I had at the Wild game — was poutine.
Bacon, gravy, cheese and french fries. This was the first time I have ever had this tasty dish, and I put the half marathon training on the shelf. Words can’t describe the deliciousness.
Our second, Phil, had a fun experience at St. Paul. He had wanted the chance to meet US Olympic Skip John Shuster, who happened to be curling on the sheet next to us. I’ll link to Phil’s story, in his own words, further below.
Frogtown Curling Club
Pictured (left to right): Dan, Phil, Greg, and Nate
We were only at Frogtown for one draw, but is the home of “The Shot.” Take a look at the link below for an article written by Greg.
Frogtown is a converted-hockey rink that now is a dedicated curling ice. We had heard throughout the weekend that it was going to be really cold at Frogtown – the curling ice is not insulated. But, to be honest, Frogtown felt like home to us.
With tables, lounge chairs and couches – it just felt like home. Pinball machines in the corners, and I swear I saw someone had a 12-pack of Blatz. There was a few people, underneath a few blankets, enjoying the competition up close. The previous draw, including our friends from the Houston Curling Club, were watching from the warming room.
A GREAT TRIP
From a venture to Surly Brewing Company, a late-night ‘magic’ find of a Mexican restaurant at 3am (assisted by Siri or all things), and a hilarious stop for beer at a place called Dancing with the Sands (where I even was answering their phones on their behalf), the trip to Minnesota was a great trip. We never even stopped on the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities. And personally, I still want to visit some touristy places like the Mall of America or even St. Paul’s Cathedral (which Red Bull was setting up a giant ramp for an event later in the month).
It’s funny, Phil kept saying how cool it would be to live in the area. He’s not the only one who thought that. Great job TCCA, St. Paul CC, Frogtown CC and Four Seasons CC. Great job St. Paul.
Dan Mulka may not be the best curler, but he makes a heck of a chicken parmesean. He is the owner of Biggest Bark Marketing and works full time doing the marketing for a local waterpark. Follow @dtgoalie30
The curling stone (also sometimes called a rock in North America) is made of granite and is specified by the World Curling Federation, which requires a weight between 38 and 44 pounds (17 and 20 kg) a maximum circumference of 36 inches (910 mm) and a minimum height of 4.5 inches (110 mm). The only part of the stone in contact with the ice is the running surface, a narrow, flat annulus or ring, 0.25 to 0.50 inches (6.4 to 12.7 mm) wide and about 5 inches (130 mm) in diameter; the sides of the stone bulge convex down to the ring and the inside of the ring is hollowed concave to clear the ice. This concave bottom was first proposed by J. S. Russell of Toronto, Canada sometime after 1870, and was subsequently adopted by Scottish stone manufacturer Andrew Kay.
The granite for the stones comes from two sources: Ailsa Craig, an island off the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales.
Ailsa Craig is the traditional source and produces two types of granite, Blue Hone and Ailsa Craig Common Green. Blue Hone has very low water absorption, which prevents the action of repeatedly freezing water from eroding the stone. Ailsa Craig Common Green is a lesser quality granite than Blue Hone. In the past, most curling stones were made from Blue Hone but the island is now a wildlife reserve and the quarry is restricted by environmental conditions that exclude blasting. Kays of Scotland has been making curling stones since 1851 and has the exclusive rights to the Ailsa Craig granite, granted by the Marquess of Ailsa, whose family has owned the island since 1560. The last harvest of Ailsa Craig granite by Kays took place in 2013, after a hiatus of 11 years; 2,000 tons were harvested, sufficient to fill anticipated orders through at least 2020. Kays has been the exclusive manufacturer of curling stones for the Olympics since the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Trefor granite comes from the Yr Eifl or Trefor Granite Quarry in the village of Trefor on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd, Wales and has produced granite since 1850. Trefor granite comes in shades of pink, blue and grey. The quarry supplies curling stone granite exclusively to the Canadian, Canada Curling Stone Co., which has been producing stones since 1992 and supplied the stones for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
A handle is attached by a bolt running vertically through a hole in the centre of the stone. The handle allows the stone to be gripped and rotated upon release; on properly prepared ice the rotation will bend (curl) the path of the stone in the direction in which the front edge of the stone is turning, especially as the stone slows. Handles are coloured to identify each team; two popular colours in major tournaments being red and yellow. In competition, an electronic handle known as the eye on the hog may be fitted to detect hog line violations, the game’s most frequent cause of controversy. This electronically detects whether the thrower’s hand is in contact with the handle as it passes the hog line and indicates a violation by lights at the base of the handle. The eye on the hog eliminates human error and the need for hog line officials. It is mandatory in high-level national and international competition, but its cost, around US$650 each, currently puts it beyond the reach of most club curling.
So, now that you know about curling stones. Let’s see how they are made!
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