Looking for a safe and fun sports activity that the entire family can enjoy together, Tammy Peters thinks she found just the thing.
But it requires a little thinking outside the box.
After going through an instructional session Peters, and her daughter, 11-year-old Tammany Peters, are thinking of joining the Roadrunner Curling Club at the Outpost Ice Arenas in the northeast heights. The RCC hosts several different curling leagues.
“One of my friends is in the league,” Tammy Peters said. “She had invited us to check it out and it looked like a lot of fun so we thought we’d try it out.”
The club, formed by James Brickey several years ago, is currently recruiting new players and holding introductory curling lessons Saturdays at 5 p.m. in June and July, except June 12. Those interested in learning to curl should visit the club’s website at roadrunnercurling.org.
“Before the rink shut down (for COVID), we had been doing lessons at least twice month,” he said. “We’re trying to get people out to see who is interested.”
Brickey said he was intrigued by the sport after watching the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, but didn’t get a chance to actually try it until he moved to Ohio in 2015.
“The first time I threw the rock,” he said of the 42-pound chunk of granite that veteran curlers call a rock, or stone. “I fell down, but I loved it.”
Brickey, a University of New Mexico alum, was determined to find a way to continue playing after moving back to Albuquerque in 2017, especially with another Olympics coming up in 2018.
“The Outpost had sheets but no rocks,” he said of the playing surface. “So I made sure to buy some rocks so we could go live at the Outpost for the 2018 Olympics. I gave my first lesson in November 2017 but I really didn’t get much interest until the Olympics. That’s when everybody gets to see it and there’s a lot of interest.”
The sport is simple enough as it is quite similar to shuffleboard on ice, Brickey said. Four-member teams alternate sliding the rocks down the sheet, each looking to position their shots to finish inside the 12-foot ring, known as the house. The team that has the rock closest to the center bull’s-eye, or pin, earns one point for each rock that is closer than the opponents nearest one.
The key is to get a smooth launch to create a smooth delivery of each rock.
“It has a lot to do with balance,” Brickey said. “People who have decent balance can pick it up pretty quick. People who have dance backgrounds do lot better. Ice skaters will have a little more balance on their slider foot.”
And what makes it fun is “every shot, everybody is involved,” he said. “In basketball, if you have one great player, your team is going to be pretty good. In curling, you can’t have one player score all your points.”
While every player is involved on each attempt – those not throwing the rock get to use the sweeper brooms and try to sweep the rock into the desired position – throwing it is the most fun, Tammany Peters said.
“I really like the throwing part,” she said. “But I also enjoyed learning it. It was a new thing for me. That’s kind of what I enjoyed most about it.”
Although the motions were new and strange, the newcomer sessions were practical and helpful, Tammy Peters said.
“It wasn’t that hard,” she said. “But it was definitely different than anything I’ve tried before. It was fun. They were pretty good at teaching the right positions and strategy and stuff. We’re going to go back and bring my younger daughter. She’s eight. It’s for all age ranges, so it’s a fun family activity.”