Published February 11 2011
Forum editorial: Curling at its best in FargoFor the next several days, Fargo’s Scheels Arena will be the national focus of a sport that a lot of people – even Northerners – know little about. The USA Curling National Championships get under way Saturday at the arena in south Fargo. The top men’s and women’s curling teams are gathering for what promises to be a display of the best curling skills and competition in the nation – possibly in the world.
Curling is an ancient sport with a long and honorable tradition in the United States. It’s been primarily seen as a sport of northern states, and more than 70 percent of the curlers coming to Fargo are from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. But curling officials say about 40 states host curling clubs with either competitive or recreational teams, or both. There’s even a curling club in Atlanta.
The sport took off after it was showcased in Olympic competition. But for the arc of states from the Great Lakes to the Northern Plains, curling has been a fixture of winter activities for generations. Curling clubs have been in operation in small towns and big cities for decades. Some of the nation’s finest curlers have honed their skills in small clubs in small towns.
Curling is not exactly a big-time sport. But the diversity of skills required to be good at it makes it unique among sports played on ice. It requires strength, control, strategy and intimate knowledge of how ice and stone interact. (The “stone” is exactly that: a 42-pound hunk of granite with a handle for hefting into a slide, or a “curl.”) The rules seem somewhat like shuffleboard, but there are many more variables in curling, not the least of which are the effectiveness of “sweepers” and the skill of the “skip” (captain) to manage his team’s game.
For the uninitiated, it might not sound like much. But the game can be both subtle and breathtaking. A win or loss can come down to the last stone of the last “end.”
As we extend a warm Fargo welcome to the competitive curling teams, we also urge the local folks to go out to the arena for at least one game, maybe for more. The cost is modest. You won’t be disappointed. You could be watching a team that will compete in the men’s World Curling Championships in Regina, Sask., in April or the women’s world tourney in Esbjerg, Denmark, in March.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.