Albuquerque Journal

FUN ON ICE

- BY TA­NIA SOUSSAN Sports · Winter Sports · Albuquerque · University of New Mexico · Argentina · Mexico · United States of America · Pyeongchang County · Pyongyang · South Korea · Curling

Play­ers in new curl­ing club get swept up in learn­ing the sport

The ex­cite­ment is high on a re­cent Satur­day morn­ing as a group of mostly novice play­ers com­pete for the championsh­ip ti­tle in one of Al­bu­querque’s new­est sports leagues — the Road Run­ner Curl­ing Club.

Play­ers meet most week­ends at the Out­post Ice Arena to slide 42-pound orbs of gran­ite across the ice and then fu­ri­ously sweep a path in hopes of guid­ing the rock to the but­ton, the tar­get in the mid­dle of four con­cen­tric cir­cles on the op­po­site side of the play­ing field.

James Brickey and Stephen Stone watch as one of the teams of the play­ers they have brought to­gether gets two of its rocks in the house — the tar­get area — and the other team tries to knock one of them out.

“It’s a re­ally fun strat­egy game,” said Brickey, an Army nuclear en­gi­neer who founded the club with Stone. “It’s an ul­ti­mate team game.”

“It’s like play­ing shuf­fle­board or chess,” said Stone, a Univer­sity of New Mex­ico bio­chem­istry stu­dent who met Brickey while play­ing trivia at a lo­cal bar.

Curl­ing has been around in Scot­land since the 16th cen­tury and has been an of­fi­cial Olympic sport for decades but has not been widely played in recre­ational leagues. When the U.S. men won curl­ing gold in Pyeongchan­g, South Korea, in Fe­bru­ary, how­ever, the sport got a big boost.

A group that Brickey and Stone had cre­ated to watch curl­ing at lo­cal bars and the club’s open curl ses­sions at Out­post ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity.

“We started get­ting 30 peo­ple show­ing up,” Brickey said.

Any­one can curl, and most of the peo­ple join­ing the club and its leagues are first-timers. Just show

up with old sneak­ers and pants you can do a lunge in, Brickey says.

“That’s one of the good things about curl­ing — it’s very ac­ces­si­ble,” he said.

The play­ers have ranged in age from 10 to 84. Those who aren’t able to lunge to slide the stone across the ice can use a stick. Slid­ing out, as it’s called, is some­thing most peo­ple can learn in 20 or 30 min­utes, Brickey said.

Sweep­ing ac­tu­ally is the more phys­i­cally de­mand­ing part of the game. The sweep­ers can keep the rock on a straighter course and help it to go 5 to 10 feet far­ther than it would oth­er­wise.

“If you’re re­ally se­ri­ously sweep­ing to break the fric­tion on the ice, you’ll get a real work­out,” Stone said.

A game con­sists of eight or 10 ends — think base­ball in­nings. Each four­player team has eight stones, and they al­ter­nate turns slid­ing them to­ward the tar­get. Scor­ing is a lit­tle quirky. Once all 16 stones are played, only the team with its rock clos­est to the but­ton can score. That team gets a point for each of its stones clos­est to the but­ton.

The Road Run­ner Curl­ing Club charges $10 an hour for open ses­sions and $100 to join a league team that will play four games and a pos­si­ble championsh­ip game. Last Novem­ber, the club in­vested in a used set of 16 stones and other equip­ment — pay­ing $4,000 over four years — so play­ers don’t need any equip­ment of their own. The club even rents its equip­ment for par­ties.

 ??  ??
 ?? PHO­TOS BY MARLA BROSE/JOUR­NAL ?? Al­li­son Tutton, sec­ond from left, watches a stone as her team, Fool House Rock, com­petes against Curls Just Wanna Have Fun on a re­cent Satur­day.
PHO­TOS BY MARLA BROSE/JOUR­NAL Al­li­son Tutton, sec­ond from left, watches a stone as her team, Fool House Rock, com­petes against Curls Just Wanna Have Fun on a re­cent Satur­day.
 ?? PHO­TOS BY MARLA BROSE/JOUR­NAL ?? Roy Hella holds a scor­ing board for a game be­tween Fool House Rock and Curls Just Wanna Have Fun.
PHO­TOS BY MARLA BROSE/JOUR­NAL Roy Hella holds a scor­ing board for a game be­tween Fool House Rock and Curls Just Wanna Have Fun.
 ??  ?? Stephen Stone, left, and James Brickey or­ga­nized the Road Run­ner Curl­ing Club.
Stephen Stone, left, and James Brickey or­ga­nized the Road Run­ner Curl­ing Club.

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