New recreation club promises stone cold fun
Evergreen Curling Club chooses Beaverton to open ice rink facility
Like many who try to make sense of grown men and women furiously brushing a path for a heavy, round object to glide across an ice rink, Eric Hemesath had his initial doubts about the sport of curling.
I gave it a shot because I thought it was the most ridiculous thing Id ever seen, he said. It turns out its a lot of fun.
Eight years after his skepticism led him to throw his first stone and polish his first ice, the Chicago native is a seasoned curler. Last Thursday evening, the Hillsboro resident joined a rather motley crew for a two-hour team curling session at the Evergreen Curling Club, a newly opened facility at 10950 S.W. Fifth St., in Beaverton.
Located in the corner of an industrial warehouse complex, the thoroughly unassuming exterior gives no hint to what is found inside: a regulation, perpetually iced, three-lane curling rink, an observation area complete with video monitors, and an ad-hoc beer bar for post-curling camaraderie.
Evergreen, which formed in 2002, opened its new club space on Dec. 7.
A new groove
For years, members curled as guests at the Lloyd Center malls ice rink in Northeast Portland. While grateful to have a rink to curl on, Evergreen President Bruce Irvin, 46, wont miss having to adjust his moves to the contours of a busy public skating rink.
It curled toward Macys, he recalled with a grin. Youd curl right in a groove. Some members quit five or six years ago because they didnt like the ice conditions. They didnt want to put up with it.
With the Fifth Street facility, those days are history.
Now with a deluxe facility at the nonprofit clubs disposal, Irvin hopes to add to the clubs 120 members, whose ages range from pre-teen to 80, many of whom first glimpsed curling during the 2010 Winter Olympics. To move the curious toward active curlers, Evergreen Oregons only curling club is offering a beginner class on Saturdays as well as novice league.
In the novice league, people who just learned have a chance to get better, he said. A lot of people join that end up being members.
All for one
On the Thursday night open meeting, its not hard to see why that is. Despite bursts of physical exertion and intermittent shouting usually to direct the skip, or thrower of the stone, and the sweepers the emphasis at Evergreen is on fun and camaraderie rather than butt-kicking competition.
Likened to shuffleboard, bowling and even darts, curling is a team sport where the players who wear rubber sliders on their shoes rather than skates slide the rounded, 42-pound stone down the ice of their lane to reach a target area on the opposite side. Through a combination of arm/broom motions and hollering, the skip directs the stone thrower to the desired position or move a prime scoring spot, a defensive barrier to block the opposing teams stones or simply to knock an opposing stone out of position. Two players bearing short-bristled brooms polish the ice just inches in front of the stone to direct its course toward the goal area.
When a throw, with or without a flurry of sweeping, is effective, shouts of good throw! or beautiful! from the skip keep the atmosphere encouraging and fun-focused.
All smiles during Thursday nights session, Hamesath called curling a uniquely team-oriented sport.
Anybody on the team can mess up a shot, he explained. Its kind of like golf its a finesse game. One thing that happens when you get hooked, you may not be heading for the Olympics. But like golf, every time you come out, you get a few good shots.
Its a lot of fun, he added. Not too many people come out and not enjoy themselves.
No apologies necessary
After five years of competition, Portland resident Joe Petsche, 32, specializes as a skip. Despite his longtime devotion, Petsche, like many of his Evergreen teammates, admitted curling can be a hard obsession to explain to the uninitiated close friends included.
Yeah, I totally get that, he said with a broad grin before sweeping a stone on its way down the ice. Some of them say, What the hell are you doing?
It may not have the mainstream cache of hockey or soccer, but of all the sports hes delved into, curling is the one most likely to go the distance.
This is the one I stick to, he said. This is something I can do for the rest of my life.
Although shes still quick to apologize to teammates for an off-kilter delivery of the stone or missed call, Michelle Stevens finds curling after six weeks a forgiving activity.
Its actually a really easy sport to play, she said. I feel like I apologize a lot, then I get a good shot, and it feels great.Add a comment