Hammertime: Enjoying curling, to play and watch

This week’s Ponoka News Hammertime celebrates the sport of curling

Mike Rainone

Hammertime

Did you know that the grand old game of curling is one of the oldest team sports in the world, originating in Scotland in the 16th century?

Cool outside matches were played during the winter on frozen ponds and lochs, and what has always been described as ‘the roaring game’ likely came from the loud noise created by the flat bottomed granite stones as they travelled across the ice.

Most of us over the years have surely had the most invigorating if not occasionally frustrating joy of curling with family and friends on our Ponoka town and county and Alberta Hospital rinks. Many of us were patiently taught this slippery game by our parents or our school phys-ed teachers, then along the way chose up teams to play in mens, women’s, mixed, and high school leagues, all of which were always a ‘social rush’, especially when it came to the bonspiels. I so fondly recall that when I and my buddies first started curling way back in the sixties, we usually had to sneak our mother’s old broom out of the house so that we could join in on all the joys of sweeping our hearts out.

Learning how to throw those heavy rocks was a real adventure, usually ending up sliding out of the hacks on our knees, elbows, or back-sides while the rock went hurdling toward the bull’s-eye target at the other end. But in the end, win or lose, all of us hardy curlers will have to admit that it was great fun, getting to meet friends and foes out on those keen sheets of ice, while working up a sweat. Then it was time to enjoy the great camaraderie of each other, including curlers, spectators, family, and friends, who all head upstairs to the warm upstairs lounge, where everyone is a winner and all the ‘shots’ come out perfect. Who will ever forget those grand old ‘two sheeter’ country rinks, where the ice would swing from morning to night, the pigeons were living in the attic, and the coffee or chilli pot was always on?

For countless decades millions of people of all ages have spent their winters in the community rinks enjoying curling at all levels of competition, as well as encouraging new members with annual events such as the ‘Little Rock’ training for youngsters, seniors/cash/family and fun leagues, the new and very popular ‘Stick Curling’ where each stone is delivered with a curling or delivery stick from a standing or sitting (in a wheelchair position) for those who are physically unable to attain the sliding position but still love to curl, and so much more. Curling has also become an overwhelmingly popular game for an avid fraternity of spectators, who love to visit the rink, as well as those who spend countless winter hours in their living rooms or other locations watching our Canadian and world elite curlers competing in the Brier, the Scotties, the Olympics and many other exciting showdowns.

Curling in the 1940s in Ponoka

While browsing through my memory archives I found this delightful explanation of the game of curling, written for the 1944-45 The Quill and Shield Ponoka High School yearbook by Dorothy Reid, and entitled ‘Rinks, Rocks, and Wrecks.’

Curling in high school bonspiels a sport which students really enjoy because it makes them so stiff and sore that for a while they forget to worry about homework.

The game is played on our local ice rink and your team (if you are lucky) is a nice bunch, which is led by, not a lead, but a skip. I am not really sure what he skips, but let’s skip that. The skip stands at one end of the rink and I at the other. Whatever gave him the false impression that I intend to be a doctor I do not know, but he insists on hollering ‘Interne’ when speaking to me. However, after I let my rock go, he calls me other names, and then when I have my second turn he shouts, ‘now hit the broom.’ This makes me boil because the moment I heave the rock he moves the broom.

The object of the game is to get your rocks into the house at the opposite end of the rink. This is not really a house, it’s more like a pig-pen, because the rocks must get over the hog line of you want to keep them left lying around with all the rest. When a rock is coming along the ice the skip yells “Sweep it. Sweep it.’ He means the ice of course, and I have often wondered whether it would not be easier if everyone pitched in and gave the ice one good sweeping before the game instead of separately sweeping the path of each rock? The Skips would probably forbid this to make sure that they will not be roped into any of the work.

After everyone has two turns, usually in turn and outturn, the first end ends. The second end starts from the other end of the rink. Eight ends are played before the game ends, and at the end of the end you end up at the starting end of the rink. Has it really changed that much since way back then?

Always play and cheer for your game to the fullest, share your exuberance with others, and have a great week, all of you.

Just Posted

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Rimbey RCMP need help identifying vandals

Plus, GPS in stolen vehicle helps locate it and the suspect in Red Deer

Ponoka Chamber to host election forum

All-candidates forum for Lacombe-Ponoka set for March 28 at the Ponoka Legion

Ponoka County $3.6 million surplus used to prepare for future

An unexpected grant carryover along with operational savings in 2018 has provided… Continue reading

St. Michael’s Church commemoration held west of Bashaw

The celebration acknowledged the history of Hungarian settlers in the area

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

GM announces jobs, electric vehicle after Trump criticism

The company says it will spend $300 million at its plant in Orion Township

Most Read