House Call: A Curler’s Resolution for 2012 and Beyond…

If you’re struggling to come up with a New Year’s resolution I’d like to offer a suggestion. Are you ready? Here it is: Play the ice you’re given instead of complaining about speed or runs or straight spots or whatever. Focus on understanding the ice you’re playing on. Make it a goal to figure it out before your opposition. I offer this as a suggestion not because I think we should all submit to substandard ice conditions but because, in general, we are all spoiled with the ice we play on. We need to learn how to read the ice instead of constantly complaining about it. I remember playing in a bonspiel in a two-sheet, natural ice club when I was a teenager. It was fun! Both sheets were extremely high on the outside and both dished down to meet on the inside. I’m pretty sure the ice ran at a about 10 seconds for a draw and to top it all off there were often large drips at various places on the ice that you had to navigate around or your rock would either be stopped entirely or bump over them and change directions.

Learn to love your club's ice (Photo J. Mills)

None of us stood around refusing to play and complaining about the bizarre conditions. We went out there and curled. It was a race to see who could figure out the quirks first. In my opinion, the advances that have been made in the world of icemaking are both a blessing and a curse. It’s beautiful to watch the Brier and the Scotties and see their pristine ice running at 15 or even 16 seconds for a draw right off the hop. However, now an army of armchair curlers take to the ice every season expecting arena ice conditions at their home club. Instead of taking the time to get to know the sheet they’re on and use that knowledge against their opponent, everyone is quick to complain to the ice maker, throw up their hands, and say “It’s the ice! That’s why I can’t make a shot.” It’s time we club curlers realize that we are lucky to play on the good ice we have in our clubs. Imagine going back 10 or 15 years… Imagine going back to natural ice, straw-strewn ice, 10-second ice! Now thank your lucky stars for all the advances that have been made. Give your icemaker a kiss on the cheek and tell him you know he’s doing his best – then just go out and play your game! Your opponents play on the same sheet as you and the trick is to figure the ice out before they do. If you’re out there worrying about all the things that are wrong and seeing them as road blocks, you are setting yourself up to fail. Think of reading ice as part of the game and learn to enjoy it. No, you shouldn’t have to put up with chronically dirty ice, or giant slopes in the ice. But let’s all try to be a little more lenient this year and get back to the essence of the game. Let’s play with what we’re given, enjoy ourselves more, and complain a lot less! Happy New Year and Happy Curling!