Skiing? Check. Sledding? Check. Skating? Check. You and your crew have been busy this winter. You may even think you’ve covered everything the season has to offer. But have you tried curling? The sport you may have seen during the Olympics and wondered about (the shouting, the sweeping, the donut shaped thing at the end of the ice) is perfect for the whole family.

Curling1

photo: Lisa Rauliuk

What Is Curling?
Curling is a sport played on ice in which players slide large, round, flat stones across the surface towards a target area that is divided into four concentric circles. Members of a team, each with four players, use brooms to sweep the surface of the ice in the path of the stone to control its speed and direction. Each team takes turns sliding the heavy, polished stones towards the circular target and points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the target at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones.

curling

photo: Peter Miller via flickr

The Perks
Curling isn’t a sport just for adults. “It’s truly a sport that can be played at all ages for your entire lifetime,” says Lisa Rauliuk who runs the Juniors Program at Granite Curling Club in North Seattle. Since joining the club in 1995, Rauliuk has seen the sport grow steadily in popularity and for a good reason. It’s fun to play and the benefits for kids are aplenty:

Social – “Curling is a very inclusive activity,” Rauliuk says. “Our junior league is made up of such a diverse group of kids.” On a typical day, the juniors practice skills and drills, play a game and then head inside to warm up and take part in another important curling tradition: socializing. But rather than gathering around pints of foamy beer, hot cocoa hits the spot.

Physical – While throwing rocks is an awesome part of the game, sweeping the rock down the ice is equally important and a great way to work up a sweat. “The kids do get a ton of exercise,” says Rauliuk. “And the nice thing is they can come out and play and they don’t need to have any particular skill set.” However, if your kiddo does want to move onto more competitive play there are avenues available for this. In fact, two of the club’s members earned the right to represent the United States at the recent Youth Olympic Games in Norway.

Inexpensive – The price of Granite Curling Club’s Learn to Curl session is $10 which involves two hours of instruction and play. In addition, the Club provides kids with all the basic equipment including a slider, gripper and broom.

Curling2

photo: Lisa Rauliuk

How to Get Kids Started 
Juniors Learn to Curl is designed for ages 7–18 who are new to curling. Players are divided into groups by age and skill level. In addition to regular curling rocks, the club provides “little rocks,” lighter versions of curling stones that make it easier for pint-sized players to slide their rocks down the sheet. Psst! Mark your calendars for the upcoming Juniors Learn to Curl sessions taking place on April 17 & 24 and May 1, 2016 from 9:15 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Sessions are $30.

Another option for kids is the Fridays Juniors League which runs from early October until the end of March. This league is open to all Junior members under 21 and meets on Fridays from 4:30 p.m.–6:15 p.m. For Juniors under the age of 16, the membership fee is $30 and an additional $40 for Friday Juniors League.

Know Before You Go
While Granite Curling Club provides the basic curling equipment, participants do need to bring the following items to enjoy their session:

1. A helmet

2. Clean, flat soled shoes

3. Loose fitting pants – sweatpants or yoga pants work well

4. Warm clothes! Did we mention the game takes place on ice? Kids should dress in layers as it can be chilly!

curling

photo: Lisa Rauliuk

Give It a Try!
If curling sounds like a sport your kiddo would like to make a clean sweep for (see what we did there?), the Club is hosting a Junior Open House on Feb. 28, 2016 from 9:15 a.m.–11:30 a.m. For just $10, kids can hit the ice with instructors and learn more about the game.

Interested it trying it with your kids? Slide into the Club’s General Open House on Feb. 27, between 1 p.m.–5 p.m. and for $25 per person you can sweep and shout alongside your kids. Sign up online.

Granite Curling Club
1440 N. 128th St.
Seattle, Wa 98133
206-362-2446
Online: curlingseattle.org

Have you tried curling with your kids? Want to give it a try? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below!

— Christine Roulston