We good folks of Sooville were blessed with a rare and delightful thing this year; A summer. Not a couple of weeks of sweaty humidity and mosquito conventions sandwiched between iffy, rainy, mid-teen extensions of spring and autumn, but a bah-Gawd proper long, glorious, soul-top-upping SUMMER. It even absorbed nearly the entire month of September! What the heck? Whatever you were all doing to keep Ma Nature pleased with you this past year, feel free to keep it up for 2016. PLEASE.
By now you may have guessed that I am a fan of summer, to which you might naturally assume the corollary of this; that I hate winter.
Okay, hate is a strong word. Appropriate, but strong.
My disdain for the cursed, endless season of frostbitten misery comes not entirely from the fact that IT’S TOO (expletive deleted) COLD, but also because I no longer play winter sports.
This is not because I don’t enjoy them. Hockey is one of my favourite sports. Tobogganing appeals to an aforementioned love of semi-reckless speed. Snowboarding…well I sucked like a nuclear-powered Shop Vac but I still enjoyed it right up until the inevitable high-impact moment of intimacy with a very stationary object; usually a large tree…or the chalet.
See, winter will forever occupy the caboose in my ranking of seasons for reasons beyond the Hellish barren moonscape of the terrain, or the Beautiful Downtown Iqaluit temperatures.
Winter sports all seem to, you know, hurt.
I’m old and soft, I know. That’s a ‘me’ problem.
Skiing, hockey, speed-skating, snowmobile riding (and falling off, which happens), all usually involve some combination of smack, thud, crunch, and ouch. Even biathlon can be lethal, but only if you’re doing it REALLY wrong.
If you are like me, and if so please accept my sincere condolences, you may be looking for a winter activity that dials back the lake-effect-intensity wind chill to a gentle, Chinooky breeze.
If so, might I recommend Curling?
Now before you comment, I realize Curling is played on a surface of solid ice, with giant granite projectiles; neither of which inspire visions of comfort, wellness, or serenity. Stay with me. It’s not that kind of game.
Sure, if you haven’t been pinned under a heavy household object for the last year or two, you know that the game at its highest level is an intense, competitive, athletic endeavour of the highest caliber. We are fortunate to have THE FINEST CURLING TEAM IN THE WORLD right here in our city, and no one would ever mistake our Olympic Champion Team Jacobs for anything other than a finely honed, driven, and incredibly successful member of Canada’s sporting elite.
Heck, even my family had a fair measure of success competitively. My mother and brother have both represented the Soo at the Provincial Championship level. I did my part to preserve the family’s curling legacy by staying far away from anything resembling competitive play. You’re welcome, Wilcoxes.
The recreational level, however, is a different animal altogether. Junior, senior, female, male; any level of ability, you’re all welcome. The price of entry is more than reasonable, as are lessons. Equipment is a brush, a slider, and a glove. You can start in grade school, and finish when you’re ready for pasture. Tournaments, known as Bonspiels, are a hoot, bringing teams of all levels, from all over, together to compete and celebrate the game. Whether you’re the lead, second, third, or skip, your rock matters. Your teammates use their brushes to help your shot find its way to its target. It’s an amazing example of teamwork. The victors and the vanquished join up after the game to enjoy a sudsy refreshment and share some laughs and stories. It’s sportsmanship at its finest, at its most Canadian.
Did I mention it’s played indoors too?! Huzzah!
So hurry, hurry hard (sorry) to either of our fine local Curling Clubs, watch the play, and then sign up to become a member. It’s great exercise, at a more leisurely pace, with the promise of laughs and great memories. Furthermore, it’s your chance to ‘rock the house’ without the risk of tinnitus or stage dive-related trauma.
The surface may be as cold and hard as ice, but that’s about the only part of your Curling experience that will be.