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|| News Item: Posted 2003-03-02

Men with Brooms: Manitoban's love their curling
By Robert Dall, Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

Dave Hamblin, current World Junior Champion yells directions down the ice while the other team looks on.
What involves lots of moving around, sweating and yelling hard at the top of your lungs?

Get your mind out of the gutter I was referring to curling . . . Just as rural Texans love their football, Manitoban's love their curling.

The recent Safeway Select Manitoba Curling Championships were in my fair city last month. They took over the twin pad arena that's home to our AAA hockey team. In one arena they converted the NHL sized hockey rink into 5 sheets of curling ice made by one of the best ice makers in North America, Hans Wuthrich. The host committee then converted the other rink in a bar of equal size.

Yes, a bar, which is one, reason I like the sport so much, The social side of curling is equally as large as the competition itself. The organizers rarely hold the championship in a major centre because the competition gets lost with in the city. They take it to small town support the local economy and take over the town for the week.

Curling is so beloved because the prairies are cold and ruthless in the winters; the farmers and rural folk need something to do through the cold.

During this years five days curling event it was -25C to -30C outside and yet some one had the bright idea for all 300 staff and volunteers to wear the sportsshooter famed Hawaiian T-shits and lays. They also never dropped a smile from there over worked faces.

Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

Brent Scales of Swan River, yells down the ice.
The curling lingo creates barely legible cutlines that can read."Skip James Kirkness throwing the hammer drew the button and won the end" Why are you using hammers? What are buttons doing on the ice? And why is everyone called Skip?

Curling is about as confusing to understand as cricket, two extremely simple games completely confused by people trying to cover them.

Yet, this is a polite sport where everyone is yelling at each other. When you not yelling your leaning on your broom used for sweeping and everyone sweeps except for the skip who yells and leans and generally freezes their but off because they rarely move. Yes, this is one confusing sport.

Shooting positions weren't bad with organizer's giving you full run of the place. When you arrived they give you a chunk of carpet and you find a nice spot and realize why you need the carpet. Your sitting on the hockey ice they didn't use. Good news, those free liquor tickets you also received can be used while shooting and your drink never gets warm. Bad news, the carpet only minority helps from getting a frozen bottom.

The week ended with well over 1000 people pilling into the bar on the Saturday night to listen to the reunion of the band Double Eagle a once huge country band that got it's started in Portage la Prairie, MB. While I was learning the social side of curling I saw mid-aged western wearing couples dancing right beside 20-something skater clad boys and their Halter-top clothed girlfriends, dancing in prefect co-habitation. Maybe the world needs more curling. . . With the world curling championships happening a short drive away in Winnipeg, MB this year it should be easy to see the best in the world. All I need to do is find a client and some credentials, any takers . . .

(Robert Dall is the lone photographer at the Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic and can be emailed at when not at the curling club.)

Related Links:
Robert Dall's member page

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