First-time curlers embrace the sport at ‘Game of Stones’ competition
Base Village ice rink hosts Thursday afternoon curling games
Curling is not as easy as it looks on TV. In fact, it’s not easy at all, as first-time players were discovering last Thursday afternoon during the Game of Stones series on the Snowmass Base Village ice rink.
Aron Chambers, who was overseeing the game as a member of Aspen Skiing Co.’s event staff, compared the activity to “bowling on ice.” (Skico organizes the Bud Light-sponsored event.)
But in this case, the heavy object gliding down the lane weighs 40 pounds, not 14, and a teammate at the other end of the rink is eagerly waiting with a brush to coax it into the bullseye center worth five points to the team. There also is a three-point ring and a one-point ring on the target; over- or undershoot and you’ll be stuck with zilch on the scoreboard. The first team to hit 10 points wins.
“It’s fun, but it’s really hard,” said 13-year-old Lorenzo Giberti, who was visiting Snowmass Village from Brazil on a vacation with his mom. Giberti’s only experience prior to hitting the ice was watching it in the Olympics years ago, when he found it to be a bit of a “funny sport.”
Curiosity spurred him to try it out in Snowmass, but a stoic resolve seemed to be what kept him on the ice as he silently slid stone after stone from one end of the rink to the other.
“I wouldn’t expect that rocks on ice would be fun … It’s a different kind of sport,” Giberti said — the kind that takes quite a bit of skill and strength, as he and an enthusiastic group of visitors from Napa Valley, California on the other end of the rink were both discovering.
The Napa crew joined in on the Game of Stones at the cajoling of 43-year-old Bevin O’Brien, a self-proclaimed curling enthusiast who was determined to try the sport she has only ever played via the Wii curling video game.
“I’m obsessed with curling. … The whole trip, all I’ve cared about is curling,” O’Brien said. The game was living up to the hype, to be sure, but she also observed that real-life curling was “way harder” than maneuvering a Wii remote at home.
That was the general consensus among the high-spirited foursome that included O’Brien and her 46-year-old sister Erina as well as 47-year-old Aaron Baracco and 31-year-old Nick Swanton.
“It’s a little humbling right now,” Baracco said during a quick break from playing with gusto on the ice.
He had never tried the sport before — “not a lot of curling in the wine country,” Baracco noted — but he was all in on the competition last week.
There was, after all, plenty at stake: “money and everything,” Baracco joked, hinting at a wager between the four players. The gang was catching on fast and already tossing out aspirations for an Olympic debut two weeks out in Beijing. (Alas, they’ll have to wait til 2026: the U.S. Olympic curling trials took place back in November.)
But a competitive edge is hardly a prerequisite for a good time on the Base Village rink, where anyone can walk up and try curling on Thursday afternoons from 3-5 p.m. throughout the season.
“It’s just about coming out and having fun,” said Chambers, who also worked on the Game of Stones staff last season.
A mellow turnout meant nearly unlimited time on the ice last week but event management staff will often dole out 30-minute slots for each of three lanes to make sure anyone who wants to play can try it, according to Chambers.
“It (has) always been super super busy — people love it,” Chambers said.
What: Bud Light Game of Stones
When: Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. through March 31
Where: Snowmass Base Village Ice Rink
Cost: Free; registration takes place onsite
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