Friday, October 5, 2018

#21: Curling In Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

(reposted from February 13, 2013)
I Give It A Go!

If tourists used to ask me what people in Skagway did during the winter, they certainly asked the question of Dawsonites in Dawson City, Yukon, some 400 miles even farther north. It seemed inconceivable to visitors that anyone would actually live way up there. "What do they do?"

Less than a minute out of the Westmark Hotel Breezeway, motor coach full of the curious, I'd answer. “Do you see the green building to your right? Well, that’s the curling rink. They curl.”

And this is what I intend to try, I’d think to myself. Lucky me, last week I did just that.

Bonspiel Score Board

First of all, scoring is complicated. The easy part is that you play the ice first one way, a team of four going with eight rocks (40-pound circular stones with a handle on the top) and then playing the ice the other way. Each is considered an “end” and the game is over after eight ends—or unless the losing team loses heart and quits. And this does happen. Too far behind to catch up, people give up.

Curling rink in Dawson City, Yukon

I first watched four games at Dawson City’s 114th International Bonspiel, fascinated by the skill, strategies, and scoring, perfect strangers happy to answer my questions and teach me the finer points of what was going on. I could hardly wait until Thursday night—when I could try it for myself.

It’s harder than I thought. I’m not strong, and you’ve got to figure out how to push off, keep yourself balanced, and get enough oomph to spin the rock down the ice far enough to “get in the house.”

Brenda Wilbee tries to curl
I played with a friend I was staying with, two strangers, and a Swiss woman I’d made friends with during the bonspiel. All were patient and helped me along, which was all part of the fun.

I actually got off two good shots, and when we played girls against boys, the girls won. Meet the winners: Myrta, Me, and Larissa.

So curling is one thing at least that people do in Dawson during the winter.

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