THROWING STONES: Greenfield men embrace the sport of curling through local club

0
1082

Dan Ivers, of Hancock County, during a recent match at the Circle City Curling Club facility in Anderson. The club now has a new facility dedicated specifically to the sport of curling. In the past, the club would have to use old ice rinks, which are not conducive to the specifics of the sport. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

ANDERSON — Three or four times a week, Dan Ivers makes the 20-minute drive from his Greenfield home to the Circle City Curling Club’s new facility in Anderson to compete in the sport of curling — in which competitors glide a granite “stone” across an ice rink as their teammates “sweep” the ice, directing the stone to the scoring ring on the opposing side.

The new curling center is a dream come true for CCCC members, who have been playing in various hockey arenas throughout greater Indianapolis since the club was founded in 2007.

Ivers, who works in research and development for Elanco, was among the band of volunteers who built the facility from the ground up, working with a handful of contractors to convert a former heavy machine shop into a chilled ice rink with three 150-foot-long playing lanes, known as “sheets.”

Club president Jim Puckering said “15 years of planning, many years of fundraising and 10 months of hard work” went into making the new center a reality.

“This is an exciting time for the club. Having our own location will allow us to share our love of the sport of curling with many more people in central Indiana,” he said.

It’s the same sport that captures the world’s attention every four years in the winter Olympic winter games, as men and women from around the world take turns sliding the 42-pound granite stones across the ice to the bullseye-shaped scoring ring at the opposite end of the sheet.

On Jan. 15, the CCCC hosted an open house to show off its new facility and give newcomers a chance to try the sport out for themselves. More than 160 people attended.

Since becoming an Olympic sport in 1998, curling has exploded in popularity in the United States, with nearly 200 curling clubs having sprouted up around the country.

According to the U.S. Curling Association, the number of active curlers has grown from 16,000 to 25,000 over the last decade.

Sharon Martin, secretary of the CCCC, said the club’s membership has quickly expanded since the new facility opened in Anderson, with over half the club’s 146 members having joined since the center opened in early December.

“That number grows every day,” said Martin, adding that nearly all the club’s Learn to Curl sessions are sold out for the remainder of the season.

Kyle Lawrence of Greenfield joined the club last year after giving curling a try through a curling club in Ft. Wayne.

He got curious about the sport after watching in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and decided to try it out for himself for his birthday last March.

He was immediately hooked and quickly joined the club, playing in leagues every Friday and Saturday night.

“What I enjoy the most about the sport is the sportsmanship and strategy,” he said. “It’s like a game of chess trying to figure out what the other team might do next.”

Both he and Ivers say it’s a joy to teach others about the curious sport that so many have grown to love.

Newcomers quickly learn the basics and terminology of the game, like the fact that each curling contest is called a “bonspiel,” and is typically played with two teams of four people — each of whom take turns sending the stones from one end of the sheet to the other, ideally landing within the “house,” the 12-foot-wide scoring ring at the opposite end.

Unlike hockey or skating ice, which is smooth, curling ice is pebbled. When a stone is thrown on flat ice, friction stops the stone from traveling very far or straight.

The pebbled surface — applied as a mist which freezes quickly — reduces friction, allowing the stone to glide longer and straighter.

“It’s called curling because the stones actually don’t slide on a straight path, but will curl around and move about four to six feet from their original path,” said Ivers, a member of the CCCC’s ice crew and former club president.

Each team strategizes how to get their stones into the scoring area while trying to prevent their opponent from doing the same.

While each curling tournament is called a “bonspiel,” each bonspiel is followed by a social gathering known as “broomstacking.”

The tradition supposedly dates back to the Viking days, when curlers would complete a game on a frozen pond, then stack their brooms in front of the fire and enjoy beverages with their opponents.

“Broomstacking is a long-held tradition among curlers,” said Martin.

Custom dictates that the winners buy the losers the first round of drinks, she said, with each winning team member buying their counterpart the round.

The CCCC’s Anderson facility has a heated clubhouse designed just for broomstacking, where players can kick back, relax and socialize after each game or practice.

Ivers first got hooked on curling during a 2008 trip to visit his brother in North Dakota, where the men’s curling world championships were taking place.

He did a little research upon returning home and discovered the Circle City Curling Club, and he’s been a member ever since.

The 59-year-old Greenfield man said curling is great activity for all ages.

“I’ve curled with kids that are 8 years old and adults in their mid-80s,” he said.

Those who enjoy the sport share a close bond, said Ivers, who makes a habit of looking up the nearest curling facility whenever he travels for work, in hopes of playing a few rounds and making new friends on the ice.

The Circle City Curling Club’s new center is at 1735 W. 53rd St., Unit 3A, in Anderson. For more information on the club or to become a member, email [email protected] or visit CircleCityCurling.com.