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The Journal Gazette

  • Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette Kevin Croy of Fort Wayne tries out one of the three-sheet curling surfaces at the Fort Wayne Curling Club.

  • Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette The Fort Wayne Curling Club, located at the south end of an unassuming storefront on North Wells Street, has a three-sheet curling surface and installed an $80,000 cooling system to convert the old bakery’s warehouse – garage doors and all – into an impressive curling rink.

  • Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette Matt Triplett of Rockford, Ohio, tries out one of the three-sheet curling surfaces at the Fort Wayne Curling Club.

Sunday, February 18, 2018 1:00 am

Olympic sport anyone can try

Curling club welcomes rookie to converted Wells Street bakery

Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: Fort Wayne Curling Club Olympic Learn to Curl classes

When: Held daily through Feb. 25, 7-9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4-6:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, 12-2:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fort Wayne Curling Club, 3674 N. Wells St., Fort Wayne

Cost: $20, payable by cash, check (made out to Fort Wayne Curling Club) or credit card.

Registration: Available at www.fortwaynecurling.com. Classes streamed online via YouTube (search “TESN Fort Wayne”).

Leagues: Club hosting six-week rookie leagues ($100 fee) starting Feb. 28 (6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and March. 2 (6:30 p.m.).

Curling glossary

The following terms and definitions are used throughout the curling world:

BACKLINE

The line across the ice at the back of the house. Stones that are over this line are removed from play.

BITER

A stone that just touches the outer edge of the circles.

BLANK END

An end in which no points have been scored.

BONSPIEL

A curling competition or tournament.

BRUSH

A device used to sweep the ice in the path of a moving stone.

BURNED STONE

A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play.

BUTTON

The circle at the center of the house.

COUNTER

Any stone in the rings or touching the rings that is a potential point.

CURL

The amount a rock bends while traveling down the sheet of ice.

END

A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and the score has been decided.

HIT

A take out. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.

HOUSE

The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button.

SHOT ROCK

At any time during an end, the stone closest to the button.

SKIP

The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end.

TAKE OUT

Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.

- Curling Canada

With a chill in the air, thousands in northeast Indiana tune in nightly to watch the Winter Olympics. While the region has seen its fair share of snow this winter, there aren't too many sports featured in Pyeongchang in which anyone from Fort Wayne can drive to a spot just north of downtown and compete.

One notable exception – curling. With the sibling duo of Matt and Becca Hamilton, the Midwestern mixed doubles curling team representing Team USA, drawing in the nation's viewers even before the opening ceremonies, the sport of curling has made its quadrennial surge into the height of the public's consciousness.

And it looks so easy. Just throw a cylindrical rock down a sheet of ice, knock the opponents' rocks off the playing surface and score points, right? Not so fast, friends.

Hailing the call from a friend's Facebook post, this author joined about 20 other would-be curlers recently at the Fort Wayne Curling Club, located at the south end of an unassuming storefront on North Wells Street, just a couple blocks away from the Children's Zoo.

Needless to say, I had some questions. How could this narrow building house a curling sheet? How did they maintain their ice surface year-round in a retrofitted bakery? Perhaps the biggest question in my mind – how on earth was I going to keep from cracking my head open on an ice sheet?

Fortunately, the club members warmly invited us into the building. After changing into a clean pair of running shoes, the day's curling participants walked back into a larger room. Large-screen TVs adorned alternate walls, and both were fittingly tuned to curling competitions.

The rookie curlers were then directed to put a pair of rubber grips on their shoes to aid in traction on the ice. A short video explaining the basics of curling aired, then we moved into the club's three-sheet curling surface.

Participants were encouraged to don either a helmet or a halo to safeguard against falling injuries. With a pebbled surface, however, walking on the ice proved nowhere near as slippery as I envisioned. From there, instructors split everyone off into groups of 3-4 to practice actual curling.

My instructor, Bruce, who started curling in 2010, introduced each step, as well as the technique needed to make the 44-pound stone curve, or curl, as it sails down the ice. As Bruce explained, the club installed an $80,000 cooling system to convert the old bakery's warehouse – garage doors and all – into an impressive curling rink.

“From the outside it just looks like it's a rundown little place,” said Ryan Ades, who helped organize the group. “Then you walk in and it's just this huge facility. It's a hidden gem.”

After about 30 minutes, we put our training to use in a four-end game. Things looked promising, as we scored a point in the first end, then two more in the second and third.

Then disaster struck. Leading 5-0, our opponents kept landing their rocks inside the target, though we still had a rock preventing all of them from counting. That is, until an errant throw knocked our lone remaining rock out of the house, and our opponents planted their final rock well inside the scoring area to give them an improbable 6-5 victory.

The heartbreak proved momentary, as the day out curling surpassed my expectations. We simply shook hands, bid each other “good curling” as is custom, and my thoughts instantly moved to when I'd have another chance to go curling.

“It's easy, it's challenging, but it's a lot of fun,” Ades said. “I would encourage anyone to do it.”