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Curling heats up the ice

David Beasley, Associate Sports Editor
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013
Volume 46, Issue 12
Arts & Culture

Large granite stones can be heard roaring across newly laid ice in Beaverton. Rumbling like far off thunder, the gliding stones were guided along a sparkling path of melting ice. Sweeping the path were two focused teammates, carefully augmenting the stone’s trajectory from their thrower teammate’s launch.

A pole was held by a fourth teammate as a marker for the thrower. The marker was held askew to the target area in order to allow the curl of the stone to overshoot off towards the intended area.

“It cost $400,000 to build the rink, mostly acquired through donations from members and grants,” said Joe Petsche, promotions director for Evergreen Curling Club. The specially designed rink brought state of the art sliding technology to Oregon in December of last year.

“A Zamboni doesn’t do the ice any justice for curling,” said Petsche. “We use a machine called an Ice King to smooth the ice, then we sprinkle water on the ice to create a pebbling effect over the surface. A tool called a nipper is then used to level the tops of the pebbled water droplets. Only 20 to 30 percent of the stone touches the ice.”

Curling consists of sliding stones across the ice to get close to the center of the target called the “button,” each team has eight stones. The team with the stone closest to the button wins the “end” or round. The winners tally up one point per rock between the button and opposing team’s rock.

“Strategy plays a big part,” said Petsche. The game winner is the team with the most points after 10 ends.

The Evergreen Curling Club opened in 2002 at Mountain View Ice Arena where it ran for four years. The club then moved to the Lloyd Center ice skating rink and after six years, finally has an ideal playing surface at their new location in Beaverton at 10950 SW 5th Street.

“It’s the only dedicated curling rink on the West Coast besides Seattle,” said club member Eugene Caroll. Evergreen women’s and men’s competitive teams both won at this year’s Mountain Pacific Curling Association Regional championships.

The club welcomes newcomers and novices with multiple league types, the friendly atmosphere is comfortable and casual. It seems a splendid idea for a weekend adventure out and about with friends.

“There’s no heckling,” said Caroll. “We don’t have curling hooligans.” The game is ancient in origin, as it was devised in the late middle ages in Scotland and was recently added to the winter Olympic Games as an official sport.

“It’s the other stupid Scottish game, along with golf,” said Caroll. As with a few other Scottish games, a congratulatory drink is often in order for the winners and losers. This after game socialization is referred to as “stacking the brooms.”

“It’s a pub game,” said curling enthusiast and Highland Stillhouse pub owner Mick Secor. “It’s a gentlemanly sport, but it gets pretty heated and exciting if you watch curling.”

The best way to learn more about curling is to play with veterans of the game. At about two hours a course, instructors have led many a session for beginning curlers. Terminology and basics were covered, including how to throw a stone and sweeping technique.

Bundled up for the cooler conditions, groups have discovered the delightful social game of curling. The next winter session will be held this Saturday at 1 p.m. and costs $20 with all equipment.

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