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Bozeman Curling Club brings ancient game to Gallatin Valley

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Story and photos by Megan Paulson EBS Staff

BOZEMAN – One of the world’s oldest team sports has found a permanent home in Bozeman. Since it was formally established in August 2015, Bozeman Curling Club has been promoting and advancing the understanding and development of curling in the Bozeman area.

Curling originated in 16th century Scotland, where games were played in winter on frozen ponds and lochs. The earliest-known curling stones came from the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth, and date as far back as 1511.

Bozeman Parks and Recreation started an outdoor curling league in 2013 and BCC has since evolved into much more. The club has seen remarkable participation in two “Learn to Curl” events this season with more than 120 participants total. It also held its first mini bonspiel – or tournament – the “Bozspiel” March 19-20, at the Haynes Pavilion.

“We had a fantastic turnout this season,” said BCC board member Ryan Anderson. “It’s great to see so many people having fun and interested in the sport.”

Forty-three participants attended the first Learn to Curl held on Jan. 23, and 42 players took the ice for the second event on March 26. Anderson noted 34 participants were first-timers – a testament that the sport is here to stay, he said.

The mini Bozspiel tournament was held over two days and had 36 participants, where the Button Blasters edged out House Rock for the championship win.

BCC is part of the Montana Curling Network and as a nonprofit organization, is set up exclusively for charitable, educational purposes.

“Our primary goal is to teach the game of curling to the Bozeman area community, operate, equip and support curling players, teams, leagues and events,” said BCC Board President Nathan Green. “It’s a blast! We are looking forward to expanding even more curling opportunities for the community as Bozeman’s ice rink facility expands in the future.”

Visit for more information on Bozeman Curling Club and related events.

Garrett Turner throws a stone for the Button Blaster’s championship win.

Garrett Turner throws a stone for the Button Blaster’s championship win.

Curling basics

Curling is a sport in which two teams of four players each slide 40-pound granite rocks – also called stones – down a sheet of ice toward a target at the other end. Each team tries to get more of its stones closer to the center of the target than the other team. The four players are called the lead, the second, the third and the skip.

Throwing rocks: Each player on the team throws (slides) two stones in each “end.” (An end is similar to an inning in baseball.) Each team throws eight stones in an end. The players alternate throwing with the player on the other team who plays the same position they do.

Curling rocks: When you throw a rock down the ice, depending on its rotation – which is applied intentionally – it will curl, or bend, one way or the other. How much, or little, a rock curls depends largely on the conditions of the playing surface.

Sweeping: Sweeping in front of the rock with a broom makes the rock curl less and travel farther. The lead, second, and third all take turns sweeping the ice. The “skip,” which is like the team’s quarterback, is the only one who doesn’t regularly sweep.

Keeping score: Once all 16 rocks have been thrown down the narrow sheet of ice, the score for that end is counted based on the final positions of the stones in the “house” (the group of circles on the ice that looks like a bull’s eye).

Only one team can score in an end. A team scores one point for every rock that it has closer to the center of the house than the other team.

Strategy: Generally, the skip determines a team’s strategy. During the game, the skip stands at one end of the sheet and tells his or her other three players where they should place their shots. A team’s strategy doesn’t always go according to plan!

And that’s part of what makes curling so much fun. No two games are alike – the unpredictability is always appealing.

Similar to a starting block, hacks line each end of the ice sheet to assist curlers in delivery.

Similar to a starting block, hacks line each end of the ice sheet to assist curlers in delivery.

Curling Equipment

Broom or brush: There are two types of brooms. The most common is a brush or “push broom.” With its long bristles, the “corn,” “straw,” or “Canadian” broom looks much like a normal broom. The broom is used to sweep in front of the stones to increase sliding speed on the ice.

Ice: For indoor tournaments the artificially created ice has its surface sprinkled with water droplets, which freeze into tiny bumps on the surface. Called “pebbled ice,” this surface helps the stone’s grip and leads to more consistent curling.

Rink: The rink is 42.07-meters long and 4.28-meters wide with a circular target at either end.

Shoes: Special curling shoes are common and they should grip the ice well. While shooting, slippery surfaces such as Teflon are used on the sliding foot –some are built into the shoes and others are strapped on over the shoes.

Rock: Also known as a stone, a curling rock is made of rare, dense granite that is quarried on Scotland’s Ailsa Craig. Each rock weighs 19.1 kilograms and is polished.

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