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Try Curling at Maryland Curling Clubs

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In 2010, the Norwegian Curling team made waves with their eclectic pants, bringing curling to the forefront of that year's Winter Olympic Games. While curling has only been played in five Olympic games, the sport has quickly gained attention and is again part of the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia — this time starting with 10 teams in a round-robin style Bonspiel (the curling term for a tournament).

Two curling clubs in the greater Annapolis area play in tournaments and host events for the public. Both Chesapeake Curling Club (chesapeakecurling.org), based in Easton, and the Potomac Curling Club (curldc.org), based in Laurel, host a variety of bonspiels for juniors and adults as well as Learn to Curl classes or open houses.

If you're inspired to give curling a try, stop by an open house at the Potomac Curling Club or, if you know you want to learn, register for a Learn to Curl class. More information and registration is at curldc.org.

Potomac Curling Club Learn to Curl
Feb. 9, 17 and 22, noon-3 p.m.
Three-hour training session for $50
Registration required

Potomac Curling Club Open Houses
Feb. 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Feb. 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Register for a half-hour session for $10/person or $20/family

The Learn to Curl classes fill up quickly, according to Pete Morelewicz, who is active with the Potomac Curling Club, so register early if you'd like to dedicate three hours and know you are interested in the sport.

The Chesapeake Curling Club in Easton, MD also periodically offers Learn to Curl classes.

Curling is open to people of all ages. Kids as young as 6 are welcome at the Potomac Curling Club, and they have members in their 80s, Morelewicz says. It's a social activity, as well, with a long-standing tradition of the winning team buying the losing team the first round after the game.Wash-MJD CanadianCurlers web

Five things to know about curling:

1. The house is the circular target area where teams try to get the 19.96-kilogram stone. The ultimate goal is to get the stone closer to the middle than any stone from the opposition.

2. There are 10 ends in curling. An end is similar to an inning in baseball where each team delivers eight stones, alternating between teams. In each end, only one team can score. Each team scores one point for each stone that is closer to being in the house or touching the house than any of the opponent's stones. The team with the most points after 10 ends wins.

3. The set order in which the players play is presented to officials before the game begins. The first player is the lead, the third is the vice skip, and the fourth is the skip and also the team leader.

4. Players use brooms — most commonly with fabric, hog hair or horse hair ends — to sweep the ice in front of the stones. This vigorous sweeping reduces friction and straightens the curl (or trajectory) of the stone, allowing it to go straighter for further.

5. The hammer is the last rock or last stone advantage. Teams decide who gets the hammer by either chance (i.e. a coin toss) or by a "draw to the button" contest where a representative of each team shoots a single stone to see who gets closer to the center of the rings. In the subsequent ends, the non-scoring team gets the hammer.

Heidi Schmidt is an Annapolis-based family and fitness writer who authors the blog Life in Pink (legallyheidi.com).

Photos by Michael Dobbs, Potomac Curling Club

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