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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Curling in the Zoo

It was snowing here in Southern Ontario a few days ago, an unusual weather report for mid-May. And although the leaves are almost all out and the tulips are done – which means Spring has sprung and moved on – I couldn’t help thinking of curling.  So to say a final farewell to the winter, I revisited some mail I received from Jason Hall of the Kalamazoo Curling Club.  This past February, Jason sent me some great photos of Kalamazoo curlers playing the game “au naturel”.

Now, now – don’t get too excited.  This is what he meant:

Kalamazoo outdoor curling 1No, this isn’t a shot of the Kalamazoo Curling Club.  It’s an afternoon of throwing some rocks on real Mother Nature-created ice, just the way it was done when the sport first came to North America.  Here are some Fergus, Ontario, curlers doing the same thing on the the Grand River in 1890.

Curling - 1890 on Beaver Meadow All you have to do is gather some usable rocks, shovel off a stretch of the lake or river, and Game On!

See the house rings scratched into the ice?  Obviously the technique had to change a bit.  The curlers above used chunks of granite from rocks found in their fields, or blocks of wood smoothed and weighted.  The curlers from the Zoo appear to be using a set of Little Rocks. Smart!  Although the current thrower does look a bit as if he’s thinking “bowling” instead of “curling”…?

Kalamazoo outdoor curling 2 “We've been having a great time down here in Kalamazoo,” Jason wrote to me in February, just as the Olympics were winding down.  “Being able to watch curling on TV is a real treat for us Americans. We're very much looking forward to hosting the US Curling National Championships here in another week or so, and looking forward to the direction in which our new club is headed.”

Curling in the Zoo appears to be headed in the right direction.  Check out the Kalamazoo Curling Club website, here.  Thanks for the pics, Jason!

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