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WATCH: Learn to Curl session tries to take advantage of interest in Ponoka’s curling

Ponoka Curling Club starts Learn to Curl series in effort to attract new participants

Curling across the country has been losing ground to other activities in spite of the huge audiences it continues to garner on television.

In an effort to take advantage of the potential interest among the public, the Ponoka Curling Club has undertaken a new four-session series called Learn to Curl. The sessions began Jan. 5 and, with a break this week due to the Town and Country bonspiel, will conclude on Feb. 3.

While attracting a small group of participants so far, organizer Sherry Smith is pleased with the attitude and commitment having been shown by those that are showing up.

“The hope was to introduce the sport to some new people that have either never tried it or had played many years ago and would like to get back into it,” said Smith.

“The idea was to get (the participants) to be able to play a full game at the end of the four sessions.”

To get to that point, the participants first learn and practice the simple basics of curling — sliding, delivering the rock, targeting the broom and sweeping. That was followed by some more advanced techniques of weight, feel and reading the ice, while also touching somewhat on the strategic part of the game.

“That strategy and skill and everything else hopefully would get them to the point where they would have some confidence and really enjoy the game,” she added.

And according to one participant, Deb Nicol, that has been accomplished.

“It’s been so much fun. I never played before and don’t watch it much either, but this has been great,” she said.

Smith added the people that have come out are doing well considering they’ve only been on the rink three times.

“We’ve had a few consistent people coming out and they have progressed very well. They obviously enjoy it because they keep coming back,” she stated.

“They want to throw more rocks and they wanted to play a game the first day they tried it, so obviously they have an interest in it. I’m really excited and hoping they’ll keep that interest and maybe join a league next year.”

For Smith, she would love to hold another set of sessions next season, although changing it to earlier in the winter would be better and might attract more interested people.

Mark Willson watches his stone go right at the cup, eventually hit it right on, in this aiming drill on Jan. 19 at the Ponoka Curling Club’s Learn to Curl session. Photo by Jordie Dwyer
Mark Willson lets this shot go, taking out the centre cup, during this throwing to the broom targeting drill at the Ponoka Curling Club’s Learn to Curl session on Jan. 19. Photo by Jordie Dwyer
Mark Willson looks on as Deb Nicol and Shawna Willson go hard on their brooms in sweeping this stone at the third Learn to Curl session Jan. 19 at the Ponoka Curling Club. Photo by Jordie Dwyer