Curling for fun and friendship - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Curling for fun and friendship

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

The Olympic games begin Thursday in South Korea, and while not all of us can be champion skaters or skiers, one thing most people can participate in is curling.

After decades away, the sport was officially added back to the Olympic program in 1988.

Many curlers get to call the Midwest home. This year, Team USA has four men and three women on their 10 member roster that are Minnesota natives.

One of the simpler sports in the Winter Olympics, curling has deep ties to the land of 10,000 lakes.

 "Americans (on the team) are mostly from Minnesota, some from Wisconsin and a few from North Dakota, but a lot of the best curlers in the United States are from this area because this is where curling is from, really Rochester and north," said Scott Hoss, a member of the Rochester Curling Club.

Rochester residents formed their own curling club last spring and that club now has its first winter league.

 "It's a good way to get outside in the winter," said Dave Weber, a member of the Rochester Curling Club. "Otherwise you'll just get cabin fever."

If you've never played before, it's fairly easy to learn and fun to play, regardless of age.

"It wasn't that difficult and I think anybody can do this," said Lisa Raskin, a Rochester Curling Club member.

"That's one of the great things curling. Unlike golf, I can teach someone how to curl, have a good time, and watch a rock actually curl on the ice in about 15 to 20 minutes," said Hoss.

Curling involves a variety of skills; learning to how to deliver a stone, learning your balance, and learning how to throw a proper distance with the right aim.

So how do you get the perfect curl?

"Every time you throw a rock, you either give it a clockwise or counter-clockwise turn," said Hoss. "You have to tell it which way to go or it will decide."

Then the hard work begins.

"When you sweep, you're trying to heat up that ice just a little bit, to get a little bit to get a little membrane of water, to make it go a little bit further," said Hoss. "In turn, it actually straightens it out a little bit as well."

Curling is scored like bocce ball, once all the stones are thrown, the team with the stone closest to the center of the target, gets a point.

Curling is not so much about the competition. It is more about the camaraderie and friendship that comes with playing the game.

"The winning team, it's customary for them to buy a drink for the losing team," said Hoss. "The winning team and the losing team sit together. You don't go sit with your friends of the curling club, but you sit with the team you played against."

Some of the curlers we spoke to, said they are excited to watch the upcoming Olympic Curling Matches because now that they have a better understanding of the game, it will make the matches more interesting to watch.

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