Curling, otherwise known as chess on ice, is getting a foothold in Santa Fe.
Saturday’s open house from 5-9 p.m. at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road, will introduce interested people to the sport courtesy of the visiting Denver Curling Club. And those interested people will be hustled to sign up for a new Santa Fe Curling Club, according to Ice Arena Manager Tom Miller.
No matter what happens, he expects to have a program in place by September. Or at least have the ice set up to include markings for curling. Depending on the sign-up rate, he also may have a program in place to set aside ice time to teach curling and stage competitions. He’s already arranged to buy a set of 32 used stones for $8,000 from the Denver club, which is buying itself a new set at about twice that cost, Miller said.
He’s expecting more than 200 people at Saturday’s open house — more than the 170 who showed up last year at a similar event.
Why the heightened expectations?
“The Olympics! We love the Winter Olympics here at the Chavez Center,” Miller said.
The Learn to Skate classes have been filled to capacity ever since the televised winter games, he said, and the U.S. Curling Association has forwarded him some emails from New Mexicans asking where they can find a program in this state.
Asked if curling is available anywhere else in New Mexico, Miller said the Outpost ice arena in Albuquerque has the markings in place, but the curling club there hasn’t been active in recent times. “Their group is coming up to check ours out,” he said. And the Denver Curling Club is going to the Albuquerque arena on Sunday to try to rebuild interest there, he said.
And who knows how many miles someone might travel to curl? Miller said there’s one guy who plays once a week in the Chavez Center’s hockey league, driving some two hours each way from Chama and back.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This should be a good thing.”