When the first person kicked an oversized rock across a frozen pond and saw it crashing into another stone with a satisfying clunk, curling was born.
With origins in medieval Scotland, this sport that predates Canada as a country swept across this nation during the Great Depression and Second World War, eventually becoming a staple among our winter sports.
For many precision-minded sport devotees, there’s just something gratifying about coming out of the hack moving a 10-lb stone 40 metres down a pebbled ice surface to a minute dotted target.
“[The] Airdrie Curling Club [ACC] has played a central role in the local community, providing a venue for curling enthusiasts to come together and enjoy the sport,” says ACC President Mavis Wahl-LeBlanc. “Its long history reflects the enduring love for curling in our area.”
Loud screams of “hurry hard!” have been emanating from the Town and Country Centre since the late 1970s. The eight sheets of pebbled ice support more than 700 members, with the numbers continuing to increase each season.
“Curling has definitely grown in popularity thanks to great [TV] broadcasting and a resurgence within the youth population, allowing the sport to grow,” says Wahl-LeBlanc, the first female president in ACC history.
“We’ve also started a rookie-only league that has been very popular and many of those curlers graduate to other leagues.”
With proper coaching and a strong youth-development program, all ages are getting a handle on the game, from eight to 88. ACC promotes youth leagues and basic skills initiatives including the National Hit, Draw and Tap program.
“Our starting league is Youth Development, which typically starts at eight years old,” adds ACC Club Manager Don Delair. “We do have a lighter set of rocks, but prefer to just shorten the distance to the house they’re throwing at, if needed.”
Each week, several leagues for men, ladies, mixed, fun/family, drop-in, doubles and rookies. There’s also Sturling, a two-person variant of the game using a stick for delivery, if needed.
Back-breaking sweeping and persistent granite stone clashes draw competitors to several bonspiels each season at ACC, which hosts provincial qualifier events and the Ray Kingsmith Memorial Bonspiel.
Alberta regularly turns out national-ranked curlers and ACC is no different, helping develop several men’s, mixed doubles and junior players competing in provincial and national tours.
“I would say we may be biased, but Alberta does have a number of world-class curlers and national men’s and women’s champions,” says Wahl-LeBlanc. “We are very fortunate and proud to be home ice to many provincial- and even national-level curlers.”
ACC kicked off its curling season in October. To learn more about the club, visit airdriecurlingclub.ca.