Olympic winter sport at MetroParks Ice Rink
By Amy Forsthoefel
Photo: Fiver Rivers MetroParks will offer curling leagues at the Riverscape Ice Rink starting Jan. 7
Once the bearer of the brunt of jokes during the winter Olympics, there is one team sport that is quickly gaining in popularity, particularly at MetroParks Ice Rink at RiverScape MetroPark.
“We offered Try Curling programs soon after the new rink opened, and the response has been really great,” said Business Operations Coordinator Kendra Foote. “People loved the pace of the activity and how quick it was to learn. This year, we’re adding a curling league!”
Curling is one of the oldest team sports that got its start in chilly European countries. It gets its name from the distinctively curved path the game piece takes in its journey toward the goal. In this wintertime sport, players slide large granite discs called “stones” or “rocks” across a sheet of ice. The ice has been “pebbled” with water, which disrupts the normally smooth surface. The stones are thrown toward a large target area, also known as a “house.” Teams consist of one “thrower,” who scoots the stone toward the house, and two “sweeps,” who use brooms to alter the surface of the pebbled ice and influence the path in which the stone is travelling. The “skip” directs the sweeps to help guide them toward the house. Two teams use eight stones each to amass the highest number of points for placing the stones in the house. Similar to bowls, boule and shuffleboard, the team capable of putting the most stones in the house wins.
According to the World Curling Federation, Flemish paintings dating back to the 16th century portrayed on-ice activities arguably similar to the modern sport of curling. Despite its storied past, curling waited a long time to formally enter the international scene as an Olympic sport.
Although most famous for its golf courses, Scotland is largely credited with helping curling sweep across the European continent. The Federation’s website (worldcurling.org) elaborated on the history of the sport: “Curling in its early days was played on frozen lochs and ponds. … It is also clear that the first recognized Curling Clubs were formed in Scotland, and during the 19th century the game was ‘exported’ wherever Scots settled around the world in cold climates, most notably at that time in Canada, USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.”
Curling debuted as an Olympic sport as early as 1924 during the games at Chamonix, but official medal status was not granted to the sport until 1992. At the 1998 games in Nagano, the Swiss men’s team and Canadian women’s team were the first to take home gold medals in curling.
Dayton-area residents who want to try their hand at throwing some stones will be able to do so via a special curling league, which will be organized and run by the Curl Troy organization. The five-week recreational league kicks off at RiverScape MetroPark on Tuesday, Jan. 7, but reservations are being accepted now for available team slots. Individual “free agents” also may be accepted. They will fill gaps for teams if someone is unavailable to play. “This offers teams a little more flexibility so you don’t have to forfeit if you don’t have enough players,” said Dale Katzfey, Curl Troy boardmember. “This ensures play time for all participants.”
Team registration costs $360 and individual registration is $90. The curling league is appropriate for all skill levels. “We will host a refresher/beginner course during week one to get curlers prepared for the next four weeks of friendly competition,” Katzfey said. League costs cover all equipment, which includes use of the curling stones, easily the most expensive piece. “Curling stones are made of 40- to 44-pound chunks of pure granite, which can cost upwards of $10,000,” Katzfey explains. “Joining a league like this is a great way to enjoy the sport without a lot of investment.”
Olympic curling teams will return to the ice Feb. 7-23, 2014 during the XXII Olympic Winter Games at Sochi. For more information, visit olympic.org/curling.
MetroParks Ice Rink officially opens on Friday, Nov. 29, and will remain open for skating, parties and programs through Friday, Feb. 28. Weekend rink admission is $7 and includes skate rental. Season passes are available for $75 for families and $40 for individuals.
Other popular skating activities include:
– Rink rentals: Rent the rink for the private use of a group. The $300 fee includes 50 skate rentals and 50 cups of hot chocolate. Rink rentals are available from 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays. Call 937.274.0126 to book.
– Parker Parties: For smaller gatherings, Parker Parties offer 10 admissions with skate rental, 10 meals from Silver Fern Café and 10 invitations with envelopes for $150. Parker Parties may be booked anytime the rink is open to the public – except during holiday hours. Call 937.274.0126 to book.
– Broomball: Another winter sport league, broomball, is more like hockey in which teams must move a hard, plastic ball from one side of the rink to the other using hard, webbed sticks that resemble brooms. Players try to push their ball into the opposing team’s net to score points – without being thwarted by the goalie. Visit daytonbroomball.org/riverscape to learn more and register your team.
– Programs: Skating lessons for various ages will be offered throughout the season. Themed music nights and special holiday hours also are scheduled. Visit metroparks.org/skating for the complete list of lessons and programs, as well as online registration.
To sign up for the MetroParks Ice Rink curling league, please visit curltroy.org or call 937.274.0126.
Reach DCP freelance writer Amy Forsthoefel at AmyForsthoefel@DaytonCityPaper.com.