Curling is just about the friendliest sport there is, possibly because without contact with the opponent, one of the big reasons for trouble simply does not exist.
But it goes beyond that, and the Las Vegas Curling Club team that traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to compete in the Pacific International Cup got a lesson in just how sporting curlers can be.
Two lessons, in fact.
The Nevada state champions didn’t fare well, going 0-7. And while some of the games were close, a 9-7 opener against the Oregon champions, who went 4-3 in pool play for starters, it was in the blowouts that the Nevadans saw yet another example of the spirit of the sport.
“We played the eventual winner, Comox Valley, British Columbia,” recalled Pahrump resident Tom Duryea, one of five Las Vegas Curling Club members who made the trip. “Instead of making the game a total blowout, midway through, Comox called an end to the game and spent the rest of the time giving us some training in the finer points of playing the game.
“When we played the team from Yukon, they also stopped the game midway through, traded two of their players for two of ours, and continued the game as a training session for us.”
That’s an education in curling from competitors who have spent a lot more time playing the game than their counterparts from Southern Nevada.
“There are two main reasons we were not as competitive as we would have liked,” Duryea said. “One, we play on arena ice, which means we share the ice with hockey programs and figure skating programs. This means our ice is not in very good condition for curling, as it gets gouges and ruts from the skaters and ridges from the Zamboni.
“Also, we get the ice for two hours on Sunday nights to play, so we do not get any practice time. Many of the players from the other teams play on dedicated ice. The ice we played on in Vancouver is used solely for curling and is available to club members for practice and advanced lessons.”
Curling is widely popular in Canada, and many kids grow up doing it, not really the case in most of the United States, where Olympic coverage is the only exposure to the sport many people have.
“They have played most of their lives,” Duryea said. “One team has been together for 20 years.”
The top two teams in each pool advanced to the playoffs, and while there were 14 teams from the United States and Canada, and even India, the four who reached the playoffs were all from British Columbia, with Comox Valley routing Royal City 8-1 in the final.
Duryea said the lack of success on the scoreboard did nothing to diminish the enjoyment of the trip.
“After each game, we had the opportunity to socialize with players from the other teams, share experiences and talk about curling,” he said. “It was a great experience for us in Vancouver.”