Curling Fever Hits Houston As Only Curling Fever Can

Anyone who's been watching the Winter Olympics is thinking only one thing: Can we please finish with all this boring hockey and get on to something thrilling like curling?

Curling has become an underground hit of Vancouver, as mesmerized viewers get caught up in the enormous drama of ice shuffleboard. Furious sweeping, oddly excited yelling, and harlequin pants -- what's not to like?

Houston has proven not to be immune from Curling Fever. "There¹s been a definite spike in interest with the Olympics," Tom Altman of the the Curling Club of Houston tells Hair Balls. "'Learn to Curl' sessions held at other times of the year might attract 15-20 people, give or take. The session held last Friday night drew 150."

The group, which has been around for 35 years and has about 50 full-time members, curls at the Space City Ice Station on Sunday mornings.

Every Friday night they have introductory sessions for anyone interested. Altman says curling is easy to get into for several reasons:

Curling is unique in many ways (e.g., I know of Olympic curlers ranging in age from 18 to 64), it¹s a great co-ed sport (no need for short tees, as in golf), and it¹s a particularly good demonstration of sportsmanship (a great antidote to the "in your face" stuff all too common in other sports).

Maybe one of the most important for now is that it looks to be a sport most anyone could learn to play and it is. Learning to play like the Olympians on TV is far from easy and takes years of practice and experience but learning the basics of the game and being able to play it for fun in a local league can happen in just a few hours.

Don¹t believe I¹d recommend that for ski-jumping, bobsled, or half-pipe skateboarding!

But we have to know: Are newcomers required to wear those pants? "I¹m not sure I could bring myself to do that," Altman says, "while others would love it!"

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly