Competitive Curling: Why does it matter?

My previous entry spoke to the importance of a proper curling facility for recreational curlers, as they would make up the majority of users, benefiting the community as a whole. As typically happens in any sport, its participants may start out as recreational curlers, but as they progress in their skill level, they might just want to go on a more competitive track. Curling became a full olympic and paralympic sport in 2006, with the USA winning a bronze medal at the winter olympics in Italy. They won with a team skipped by Pete Fenson who curls out of Minnesota, which is currently the hotbed of curling talent in the USA. In order to compete successfully at the competitive level, curlers must have easy access to proper curling ice. They need to get the practice time in, on consistent, quality ice, and have other good teams to play against. Curling once a week on arena ice is not going to get them where they need to be skill wise; they need a proper venue in which to practice and compete.

pat mcdonald
Patrick Mcdonald, 3X paralympian, Skip of Team USA, visits OC Curling Club for bonspiel.

So why do we need competitive curling in Orange County? What possible benefit is there to the community to have representation at the state, national, or world levels in this quirky sport? I can think of many reasons, and here are a few of them!

1. There are economic benefits to the community when a club is able to host competitions. A typical tournament has 32 or more teams that play, and a dedicated ice club is able to draw teams from outside the area. That means great news to local hotels, restaurants, bars, taxis. The Orleans Casino in Las Vegas has been hosting sold out, 5000+ fan crowds for the week long World Continental Cup of Curling in 2014 and 2016. The interest is there because folks are willing to travel to a sunny climate in the winter to watch the curling elite play! If we can build a dedicated 5 sheet facility, we can host week long national events that would have a huge economic impact on the area. One day, perhaps we too will be able to host a world event in one of our larger arenas! Money matters and competitive curling can bring money into our community.

2. Competitive sports creates role models for the youth in any community. It’s good for kids to watch their sports heroes promoting healthy lifestyles, having goals, working as a team. Positive role models matter.

olympians curling
Olympians John Benton, and Phill Drobnick, watch as olympian Pete Fenson delivers his skip’s stone at the OC Curling Club Surf City Spiel in 2014.

3. Competitive curling will have people engaging in their community by having a team they can come and watch and cheer for.  We gathered at a club member’s home for an overnight olympic viewing party `during the 2014 games in Sochi. Is there anything more fun than having a team to cheer for? No, there is not. Competitive curling gives you a team to cheer for. That matters.

Most of the competitive curling in the United States is happening in dedicated curling facilities in the mid west. National TV coverage during the olympics has been credited with the growth of the sport everywhere, including the west coast. The reigning national champions are skipped by Brady Clark’s team out of the Granite Club in Seattle, one of the few dedicated ice facilities on the west coast. Portland, Oregon opened a dedicated ice club in Fall of 2013. The Coyote Club in Tempe, Arizona, brought dedicated ice to the desert in April, 2014. Already they have hosted national curling events and have attracted curling elite from many countries to their fantastic facility. The San Francisco Curling Club and Hollywood Curling Club are also working on creating dedicated ice facilities. If Orange County can succeed in bringing competitive curling to our area, we all win. Help us make this happen. The Orange County Curling Club is a 501 c3 non profit organization and can issue tax deductible receipts for your donation.  Please consider donating today.