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…do as the Canadiens do. Go curling!

Finally, after nearly a year of waiting, I had a second chance to go curling in Canada, and this time I was determined not to miss it. The last time I had a conflict and had to live vicariously through the pictures that my co-workers shared the next day.

This time, despite fighting a nasty sinus infection, I managed up the energy to get out on the ice without a pair of skates and a broom instead of a stick!

While I will admit to watching curling every so often during the Olympics and thus having a bit of an idea of the rules I realized quickly that there was a lot I hadn’t picked up by just observing. Such things as each of the four players delivers two stones during each end and that only two players are allowed to sweep that being reduced to one player after the stone crosses the tee line (line drawn through the target or house across the short width of the ice).

So, to give you a little bit more of an idea of what goes on during this game, here is a bit of a play-by-play.

Get The Stone

Set Up In The Hack

After selected the next stone and if in a real competition inspecting and cleaning it, the thrower dons a slider sole to be able to glide further with the stone during delivery (though many of us opted to not use the sliders rather keeping our bones in tact) and gets situated in the hack with the stone in their throwing hand and their broom (or brush) upside down in the other hand for balance.

Then the idea is to as you raise the hip on the same side of your body as your throwing hand to glide forward on the slider sole with the stone in your hand releasing it at just the right moment to obtain the desired velocity. And don’t forget about aiming in a pre-determined direction and gently twisting the stone one way or another to allow it to curl as it makes its way down the ice.

All of that without falling over.

Thankfully there are a few shortcuts for beginners, one being to not wear the slider as I mentioned earlier. Another is to gain the momentum lost by not sliding one’s body by sliding the stone for and aft before releasing it using its weight on one of the forward cycles to aid you in raising that hip.

It really is a lot harder than it looks on TV.

Anyway, at this point in time you should have a stone gliding nicely towards the house at the other end of the ice sheet.

Rise & Release

Slide & Glide

Wobble & Watch

Coach & Hope

Then it is time for the sweepers to take over and try to change the speed and/or direction of the stone and eliciting comments from one observer about how this is the most sweeping her husband has ever done.

In The House - Barely

One That Didn't Get There

Sometimes things go well and the stone winds up in the house, other times it has to be guided to the end of the ice having missed its mark by the proverbial mile. Yes, Virginia, sometimes no amount of sweeping is going to help..

Coming Up Short

Of course it is always best to use caution when walking on the ice because it is slippery out there.

Walk With Caution

Hey Aaron - It's Slippery Out There

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All in all it was quite a fun evening and I could see doing this again, maybe I will even get enough gumption to try using a slider sole.

For those keeping score, I think we are at 2-0 for sports tried for the first time in Canada with last year the win going to snow boarding and this year curling. I still hope that next up will be bobsledding.

Wendy

Many of you know that I spent last winter traveling between Chicago where I live and Calgary, Canada where I was on assignment for work. And anyone who has been reading my blog over the past few months knows that I spent April through August in Brazil, also for work. This meant of course that I went from winter in Calgary to winter in Brazil (don’t laugh it does actually get cold there).

Now here is the kicker, only a few short days after returning from Brazil I was headed back to Calgary for another assignment that would once again last though the winter. I was beginning to wonder who I had ticked off to seal such a fate.

Then again, maybe things weren’t that bad.

Despite that fact that it can get down to -30C in Calgary, having been raised in Wisconsin, and now living in Chicago I was familiar with cold and I have the right clothes and accessories to survive it, including my floor length down jacket that one of my co-workers refers to as my sleeping bag. And, winter does have a number of great sporting options two of which (curling and bob-sledding) I ran out of time before trying last year and one (snow boarding) that I tried and want to get better at. Not to mention skating which I actually know how to do having played hockey for a number of years.

And there is the location, the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, a most fantastic place, with Banff only a little more than an hour away by car, and plenty of other mountain attractions (Canmore and Three Sisters) even closer. Plus I had wanted to try to get to the Burgess Shale last year and also ran out of time.

Sadly, due to having been in Brazil for four months I have not been able to spend a weekend in Calgary yet as I have many domestic things that I put off that I must now attend to.

So while there was quite a sense of déjà-vu as I moved into an apartment across the hall (read mirror image) of one I had been in for part of the time last year and as I visited three stomping ground places within the first week (Basil, Nandos, Buchanans) there was also a sense of “did I really go to Brazil or was that all just an amazing dream.”

Speaking of Brazil, I know that I mentioned this in some of my blog posts when I was there, but yes, Virginia, they do have a winter, at least in Porto Alegre. And while you might not consider an overnight low of 0C very cold, consider that said low is accompanied by buildings with tile floors and without central heating. Also consider that POA is quite humid, so a chill can get into your bones that can be quite hard to shake.

Of course here again, the weather did not prohibit me from having a wonderful time as those of you know who followed this blog while I was there. Remember, I didn’t want to come home when I did, and that was before I knew that I was heading back to Canada.

Wendy

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