Post Olympic Fever Burns for Curling

By Gabrielle Coleman
|  Thursday, Apr 15, 2010  |  Updated 1:15 PM PDT
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Gabrielle Coleman

A new curler pratices her delivery at Sharks Ice in San Jose

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Hundreds of people put on their hat and gloves to try curling in San Jose this week.  Last week, hundreds more showed up in San Jose and Fremont.  Two weeks before that, another 300 tried curling in Oakland.

In fact, every learn-to-curl clinic in the Bay Area is sold out. Curling - once nearly dead in California - has made an Olympic-sized comeback.

Curling is a 500-year-old Scottish sport. Players slide rocks across a sheet of ice towards a bull's-eye target while their teammates sweep and yell "hurry hard!"  But the point is, you probably already knew that. 

Thanks to NBC and the Olympics, Americans have rediscovered curling. Maybe it's because curling is both a social and competitive sport that anyone of any age or physical ability can play. Maybe it's because the strategy has been compared to "chess on ice." Or maybe, after the US's disappointing Olympic results, they just think they could make the team.

Curling isn't new to the Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club was founded in 1958 during another US curling boom.  The club had hundreds of members and its own ice rink in Mountain View, till the land they leased was sold in the early 70's.  Without a proper facility, bay area curling collapsed. By 2006, the club had dwindled to 20 members who played a six times a year at hockey rinks. 

Enter the 2006 Torino Olympics and NBC's heavy TV coverage. Hundreds of people who had never seen curling before, flooded open houses and lessons. By the start of the 2010 Vancouver Games, the club had about 80 regular curlers and had become one of the only clubs in the country to curl year-round.

And 2006 was nothing compared this year's Olympic boom.  The club quickly sold out 2,000 learn-to-curl clinic spots, and over 250 people have signed up for longer lesson series and instructional leagues.

If you want to be part of the madness, check out the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club's web site: www.BayAreaCurling.com.  

Gabrielle Coleman started curling after watching it on her overnight shift at KNTV during the 2006 Olympics.

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