It could have been the full moon. Or it might have been H.’s new glasses, curling shoes and broom. Maybe the other team was out of gas. Or perhaps we just got our stuff together, at the same time, on the same night, for once. We’re not sure.
But whatever the cause, we won our game last week in spectacular fashion (11-1 with handshakes after six ends) and had a rare opportunity to celebrate a W on the score sheet.
It’s only February, but it has been a tough, long season for our team so far, full of challenges and far too lacking in highlights. To start with, we’re a new team: four players who didn’t really know each other well before the season began. It takes time to sort out all the little details, such as who sweeps on what side, what all those releases look like, and who prefers out-turn to in-turn hits (that would be H., our lead).
Complicating matters was the unfortunate absence of our skip for the first half of the season. We pulled together and found a great substitute, A., who is now a fixture on our five-person team. But it meant some juggling of positions, and some adjustments all round.
The results haven’t been great, and the level of frustration and disappointment (in ourselves, mostly) has been high.
But then came last week’s game.
The full moon was out – well, actually, it was coming and going behind some clouds – and I remember thinking that strange things have been known to happen under a full moon. Maybe we’d finally knock this losing streak and win one tonight. Well, to be honest, that thought didn’t last very long. Even the power of the cosmos couldn’t help us.
Inside, I found H. already suited up and ready to go. But something was different: new curling shoes. And a new broom. Yes, H. had made a trip to our local curling supply store, which isn’t as local as we would like. It’s an hour’s drive down the highway, a good two-hour round trip even without the time it takes to actually shop. But she’d obviously had a great trip, because there she was with brand new curling shoes and carbon fibre broom.
And new glasses. “I’m having a bit of trouble getting used to these,” she told us. “Things are a bit blurry…” Perhaps not the most encouraging words to hear before a game.
So we headed out to the ice, shook hands with out opponents, and got going.
And something happened.
H.’s first rock was perfect (and her slide was fantastic too.) “It must be the shoes,” we joked.
Her next rock was just as good. My two shots followed, and they went where they were supposed to, right where I was aiming, right where B., our skip, wanted them.
And it got even stranger after that. We took the end with a big three. Gave up one, and took the next four. We made draws, hits, doubles, ticks, raises. We swept rocks into play that should have died at the hogline. We joked and laughed among ourselves and with our good-natured, but struggling, opponents.
There we were, shaking hands after six ends, winners for only the second time this season.
So what happened? Well, it could have been the full moon casting its spell on those capricious curling gods.
And it could have been H.’s new shoes, broom and glasses.
On the other hand, our opponents really did have a tough game (although I would like to think it was because we made it tough for them), which made our shots much easier.
It could have been the fact that we weren’t expecting much, and so were relaxed and having a lot of laughs, for once.
Whatever magic was at work, it doesn’t matter to us. We’ll take that win and remember it as we start every game with the hope that this one will be another W on the score sheet.
The curling gods are impossible to understand. Sometimes – in our case, often – the game is a struggle. Sometimes it’s a tough but winnable battle. And sometimes, it all seems so easy that you wonder why you can’t play this way every game. Watch any competitive curling event featuring the big names of the sport and you’re likely to see, every now and then, the great ones falter – and gaze around at each other wondering what went wrong.
But for our little team, we’ll enjoy the experience of wondering what went right. The full moon? The new shoes and broom and glasses? Our relaxed expectations? Kind curling gods giving us a break, for once? Who knows.
It might not last, but it sure was fun. And that’s what keeps us coming back to the rink for more.