Once again, during WinterFest 2017, the Missoula Curling Club (MCC) will join us at Paws Up to demonstrate and teach the enigmatic sport known as curling. Like last year, the club and Paws Up guests will get a chance to play at The Resort’s “official” curling court (otherwise known as the Paws Up Ice Rink).
The sport involves two teams sliding (and guiding through the sweeping of brooms) 40-pound hunks of granite down a “sheet,” or playing field, of ice. The team that repeatedly gets its so-called stones closest to the center of a target at each end of the sheet eventually wins a curling match. The sport, which gained medal status in the Winter Olympics in 1998, is often misunderstood but actually easy to learn and fun to play, according to most curling enthusiasts.
The nonprofit Missoula Curling Club was formed in 2010. “We have 130 members playing on 28 teams in the Competitive and Recreational League. We began in Fall 2010 after the February 2010 Olympic games— which got a few folks in Missoula saying ‘we can do that,’ so a club was born,” says MCC President Barry Bollenbacher. He estimates that about 20,000 people in the United States play the sport of curling. But in Canada, the sport is huge, with about 2.1 million active curlers. The sport is hard to excel at, but easy to enjoy, says Bollenbacher, and the fact that you can enjoy a beverage during a match adds to the fun.
He recommends coming out early to the Paws Up “sheet” this year to experience curling for yourself. Lessons will take place at WinterFest on Friday, January 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., so you’ll be well prepared to take part in the exhibition game later that night, from 8:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Be sure to check out the amazing chefs, distillery, brewer and musicians at WinterFest 2017!