Like most Americans, I was basically unaware of curling before the Olympics. I became completely engrossed in the competition in 2014 though, even going so far as to wake up at stupid o’clock in the morning to catch matches live. My enthusiasm built as the games went on and never waned. Afterwards, I found myself wanting more.
So there I was, watching lots of curling yet never having played. The more I watched, the more I wanted to play. I found Windy City Curling, attended a learn to curl session, and soon was playing regularly. I was definitely an armchair skip…I could call shots and strategy, but could barely slide out of the hack without falling over, let alone make a shot. I kept at it though, and now I find myself able to hold my own…Kevin Martin I am not, but at least I look like I know what I’m doing.
Watching curling led me to play in the first place, and I think it has helped me to become a better player as well. The top players have excellent form, and I find myself emulating their technique, even if subconsciously. When it comes to strategy, I find I’m better able to visualize shots, and know what is and isn’t possible, based on what I’ve seen in matches. Besides that, I’ve picked up on how easy and/or difficult certain shots may be…sometimes it’s easier to nail that double takeout than to draw around a guard to the button. Conversely, I find that I enjoy watching curling more after having played for awhile. Playing has given me a better understanding of the game as a whole, and on a situational level I think I have a better appreciation of what it really takes to make a particular shot.
Of course, the players I watch are light years ahead of my skill level. However, therein lie some of the best lessons I’ve learned from them…everybody misses shots, everybody makes mistakes, and nothing is certain. I’ve seen some of the best curlers in the world miss “easy” shots, skips make foolish calls, seemingly perfect shots pick and inexplicably fall off line, and so on. Given this, when I make a bad shot or mess up it keeps me grounded to know that the best in the world do the same thing at times, and I don’t feel as bad about it.
Of course, outside of the Olympics curling is rarely shown on American TV. Most of my viewing has been on the internet. That is set to change soon as NBCSN and Universal Sports Network are debuting “Curling Night In America” this week. Curling always draws huge ratings in the U.S. during the Olympics, and this presents a great opportunity for curling fans to show the powers that be that curling can be a ratings draw outside of the Olympics. So, if you’re a fan of curling be sure to tune in, watch, and record the series. Live viewing and recording will both help with ratings, so it’s important to do both if you are able to. Curling is a growing sport in this country, both for players and fans, and good ratings for this event will only help to get more curling on TV and more often, which in turn will only help to grow the sport more.
Here is the broadcast schedule for Curling Night In America from NBCSN:
January 23, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 6, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 13, 2015 – 11 PM Central
February 20, 2015 – 10 PM Central
February 27, 2015 – 10 PM Central
March 20, 2015 – 10 PM Central
Here is the schedule for Universal Sports Network:
January 22, 2015 – 1 PM Central
January 30, 2015 – 1 PM Central
February 6, 2015 – 3 PM Central
February 15, 2015 – 5 PM Central
February 27, 2015 – 5 PM Central
March 13, 2015 – 2 PM Central
Here is a link to a press release from USA Curling about Curling Night In America: http://www.teamusa.org/~/link.aspx?_id=1697D7FAF978489999B0BE85EDDCC38F&_z=z
Phil Darin is new into curling, but is an experienced veteran when it comes to Loudmouth Pants. Want to hear more about curling, beer and music? Is your name Eve Muirhead? Click on the button to follow Phil. Follow @Phil_Darin.