Curling at the Kunsteisbahn Zürich-Dolder
18 February 2012
ZIWA's hardworking Monthly Meeting Team, headed by Debbie Kapelis and Joanna Brodmann, advised us to bring "warm clothing, a camera and a sense of humour" to our February gathering at the Curlinghalle Dolder. Those of us who participated used all three.
We were treated professionally and knowledgeably by the staff, from the introduction and the training video through to the expert guidance on the ice. Off ice, Rodger Schmidt, a fellow Canadian, gave us some further insights into a very complex sport. Rodger runs the Curling Academy Roger Schmidt and has trained international curlers such as the American and Russian teams for many world curling events including the Olympics. He works out of three clubs in the Zürich area.
Our hands on, on ice experience started with sliding across the ice with two 20 kg curling stones (also called simply "rocks"), one in each hand, kicking off from one side with one foot and sliding on the other, having attached a little glider slipper to facilitate our slide. We graduated to one stone in one hand and the broom in the other, the broom handle resting on our shoulder for support. Again, sliding across the ice. Next, our instructors split us up into teams and the real fun began.
We played a short game from the hog line to the house (where all of the coloured circles are), playing one stone each. Sort of a summary approach to the whole game.
Next, we graduated to the whole sheet, "throwing" the rock - that's what it's called, throwing, but you're actually letting go of the rock to propel it down the ice to the other end - after kicking off from the hack or foothold on the ice. We had 2 "sweepers" sweeping (although no amount of sweeping could get some of the rocks over the hog line and therefore had to be taken off and out of play) and a "skip" standing in the house, or rings, at the other end where we were hoping the rocks would stop. Each player threw two rocks, alternating teams with each throw.
It was a whirlwind of information and physical learning skills, but it was a very successful, fun afternoon. This team of instructors has done the same for almost 170 other groups this season, which starts in October and ends in early March. The length of their season is governed by that of the outdoor skating and hockey ice facilities at Dolder Ice Complex - the biggest artificial ice rink in Switzerland. The curling ice is divided into 3 sheets, so six teams can play at the same time, two on each sheet. It is beautifully bright because one long wall has windows allowing the natural light in, and some diversion if you need it, watching the zambonis clean and groom the outdoor ice.
Everyone enjoyed the homemade apple strudel which shored up our strength after the match. It was wonderful to see the number of spouses or partners of members who came out to join in the fun. Many want to get together to do it again now that they've had a taste of this challenging but very social winter team sport.
Here are some member comments:
NORA TESMOND: Thank you Monthly Meeting Team so much for organizing it...what a great day and experience...even with a monster head cold! While I've enjoyed watching curling on TV and looked forward to someday experiencing it, I had no idea how much more difficult it actually is than it looks when the experts do it. :-) I'm looking forward to another outing.
KIM SARGENT: We really enjoyed it, wished time allowed for us to play a couple of ends...however, that means we rookies have to look into further lessons, and joining a club...can't wait to check out the Russians in training here!
FRANCESCA WELS: Thomas and I enjoyed the event very much. Even though we had some problems understanding the whole process in the beginning, we enjoyed the game we played. We had fun and could see that there is much more to it than balancing on the ice and trying to move the stone in the right direction. Not easy that one! We loved the social part in the end in combination with the Apfelstrudel and the Glühwein too!
For those of you who weren't in attendance, here's the link to a video we were shown after the curling video introduction. It shows Jeff Stoughton throwing his "signature 360" at the Brier - Canada's National Men's Championship. No, we did not learn this delivery. This move is not normally done. Jeff's team was losing and it was the last rock so its outcome didn't matter. But he almost made the shot! www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU-g8qXOUfM
And the comments received so far:
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