Bonspiels, hacks and hog lines: Curling slides into town
Grab your brooms: Curling may be coming to Aspen.
In the wake of a highly successful “Learn To Curl” class recently at the Aspen Ice Garden, there is a move afoot to form a curling club here and perhaps become part of a league with a long-standing club in Colorado Springs.
Curling was a surprise hit sport from last winter’s Olympic Games in Italy. It is an ancient sport that involves the skimming of large “stones” along a “pebbled” ice sheet and into a target area, called the “house.”
Scots in the mid-1800s formalized curling’s rules and equipment, but the game is believed to have begun in the 1500s, according to the United States Curling Association.
But it reportedly is most firmly established now in Canada, where longtime curler John West of Colorado Springs said there are about 1.2 million people involved in the sport. In the U.S., he said, there are perhaps 15,000 active curlers, including the 75 or so members of the Broadmoor Curling Club in Colorado Springs.
That club came here last week to put on the class, which drew more than 100 participants to three different sessions.
Aspen Recreation Director Tim Anderson said he and Parks Director Jeff Woods are planning to contact all those who took part in the classes and invite them to a meeting, along with anyone else interested in forming a curling club here.
That meeting, he said, probably will be some time in May and will be the first official step in putting together a local club. The first decision will probably be whether it should be a winter or summer league.
“I’m not sure anyone wants to be inside during the summer,” Anderson said.
West said there has been a club in Colorado Springs since 1968 and that he has been curling since he was a youngster in the 1950s, when his father traveled around the U.S. and Canada for work.
Other than the Broadmoor club, he said, there are no other active clubs in the state.
But Anderson said he believes the formation of an Aspen club could spark interest in other Western Slope towns that have ice rinks, opening the possibility of forming a league and hosting “bonspiels” or tournaments in different locations.
“There’s enough interest that we don’t want to let this go,” Anderson said. He said the city may be willing to buy the first batch of gear needed for games, including a “set” of the specially made curling stones. He said he has been told there is a “loaner program” the U.S. Curling Association maintains.
Each team needs one set of eight stones, and a set can cost $8,000 to $10,000, West said. Added to that is the additional costs of the brooms for sweeping the ice.
West said the stones are mined from special sites in Scotland and Canada with specially hard granite that is not susceptible to cracking in winter conditions.
Anderson said he will announce the place, date and time of the first Aspen Curling Club meeting well in advance.
John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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