Fred Neugebauer wasn’t sure what to expect when he suggested that the Parks and Recreation Department add curling to its winter sports roster. As supervisor of the county ice arena, he had been captivated by the sport during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and had been advocating for it to be added for a good decade. Two years ago, with the support of the Parks and Recreation Board and County Commissioners, curling was officially introduced in Campbell County.
The first season was a big success, he said, and since then interest continues to grow. Last year, they had 11 teams of four sign up to play, with Titan Solutions taking the final title. There’s room for 15 teams in the winter league, and Neugebauer would like to see more teams turn out this season, and hopefully also compete in the Arena Nationals, where in late April of 2020, 24 to 44 teams from across the country will compete in Gillette for the national title.
Technically, Neugebauer has never competed in curling himself, but likens the sport to shuffleboard or a game of chess played on ice. Complete with its own complicated vocabulary, teams of four, including a lead, second, vice-skip, and skip, “deliver” their stones to the “house,” or a target on the “sheet,” or rink, while teammates furiously sweep the ice with brooms ahead of their respective stones all the while the “skip” yells directions.
The goal is to get the “stone” closer to the “button” than the other team’s closest stone. You can also try to knock your opponent’s stone away from the button, in moves involving “hammers” and “stolen ends” and a scoring system based on “rocks” and “stones” and other moves too complicated for a novice without experience to precisely explain.
Essentially, people should come out and try it for themselves, Neugebauer said, which is why the Campbell County Ice Arena will be hosting a free day of curling this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m for anyone who would like to come try out the sport.
Everything will be provided, including grippers for the bottom of shoes as well as brooms and other necessary equipment. The rink is chilly at 17-24 degrees, and participants are encouraged to dress warmly in comfortable clothing.
“It can be a simple, friendly game,” Neugebauer said, “or real competitive.”
It’s also one of the few sports that anyone can play, including children, grandparents, and even those in wheelchairs.
“People should just come out and give it a shot,” he said with a laugh, pun intended.
For more information about curling or entering a team in this year’s season, click here or call (307) 687-1555.