The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Robin­son is The Compass’ edi­tor. He once washed a lot of dishes at a curl­ing club-hosted ban­quet and can be reached at edi­tor@cb­n­com­

Curl­ing’s sad tale in Har­bour Grace The CBN Curl­ing Club of­fered a dif­fer­ent sort of recre­ation ex­pe­ri­ence to area res­i­dents when it opened in 1980. In two-plus decades, the club hosted nu­mer­ous tour­na­ments and spe­cial events. There was even an Olympic cham­pion that got his start there. But, it was not meant to last. Cer­tain de­ci­sions, a lack of membership and fi­nan­cial prob­lems all pointed to its even­tual clo­sure.

A lot of peo­ple were in awe of Jamie Korab when Har­bour Grace’s own re­turned from the 2006 Win­ter Olympics in Italy with a gold medal.

That was quite the ac­com­plish­ment for an ath­lete who honed his skills for years throw­ing curl­ing stones at the lo­cal curl­ing club.

Odd thing was, the ice sur­face Korab used to play on was no longer in use. A year later, the fate of the lo­cal curl­ing club was sealed when the Town of Har­bour Grace sold the prop­erty, which Clarke’s Fur­ni­ture now uses to show­case couches amongst other items (read Ni­cholas Mercer’s story and ac­com­pa­ny­ing col­umn on Page B1).

The prop­erty was cost­ing the town tens-of-thou­sands of dol­lars an­nu­ally, and the sport’s hey­day in the com­mu­nity was a dis­tant mem­ory.

In his col­umn this week, re­porter Ni­cholas Mercer ar­gues that in light of curl­ing’s higher pro­file na­tion­ally th­ese days via in­creased tele­vi­sion cov­er­age, the sport might’ve had a bet­ter chance of mak­ing a go of it in Har­bour Grace if the curl­ing club was still around.

That might be so. But there are a few things to con­sider when pon­der­ing that hy­po­thet­i­cal sce­nario.

When par­ents spend money on their chil­dren’s ex­tra cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, they’re no doubt look­ing to get some bang for their buck. Child­hood obe­sity has been a prob­lem in New­found­land and Labrador for decades, and tech­nol­ogy is neg­a­tively im­pact­ing the amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity chil­dren are get­ting.

Un­der­stand­ing that child­hood obe­sity in­creases the risk of de­vel­op­ing health prob­lems such as Type-II di­a­betes, its seems fair to sug­gest that par­ents con­scious of en­cour­ag­ing their chil­dren to get ac­tive want to find the right sports. So, where does curl­ing fit in that spec­trum? It was funny to catch an old im­age on so­cial me­dia last week from a 1970s edi­tion of the Canadian Brier curl­ing event. The curler shown slid­ing the stone into play is smok­ing a cig­a­rette.

Times have no doubt changed, but the fact re­mains that curl­ing if any­thing is more men­tally tax­ing than it is phys­i­cally ex­haust­ing. It’s a game of strat­egy, and like any good sport, it can pro­duce ex­hil­a­rat­ing mo­ments of ten­sion on par with any dra­matic TV show or movie.

But if you’re a par­ent look­ing to shell out dol­lars for a sport, are you hon­estly go­ing to do it for curl­ing? There are plenty more high-im­pact sports out there to avail of. It’ll be fun for some, but not the sort of sport chil­dren will come to in droves.

On the is­sue of the sport’s pop­u­lar­ity, it’s ironic to see that last week’s big an­nounce­ment about St. John’s mak­ing a push to host the 2017 Brier co­in­cided with news that the qual­i­fy­ing event in New­found­land and Labrador for this year’s Brier will only in­volve two teams.

It’s true that the lo­ca­tion for this year’s tankard — Labrador City — fac­tored into the lack of in­ter­est in tak­ing part. But it’s trou­bling to think that there are al­most no teams ca­pa­ble of de­feat­ing Brad Gushue, win­ner of 11-straight pro­vin­cial tankards.

Ac­cord­ing to The Tele­gram, fel­low tankard par­tic­i­pant Gary Wens­man de­feated Gushue’s team once in a round-robin match in 2008. Since then, Gushue has lost only one other tankard match.

It has been nine years since Gushue and Korab won the gold medal. It’s not un­rea­son­able to think their joint ac­com­plish­ment could have in­spired oth­ers in this prov­ince. As it stands, the level of com­pe­ti­tion in New­found­land and Labrador ap­pears to be fairly abysmal.

Hard to be­lieve things would be much dif­fer­ent if there was still a curl­ing club in Har­bour Grace.

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