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Curling club welcomes novices to the ice

Two Harbors Curling Club board members Don Sitter (left) and Brice Hansen work together to flood the club's rink last week. (News-Chronicle photo by Jamey Malcomb)

Things were pretty quiet outside the Two Harbors Curling Club, but there is a flurry of activity going on for two of its board members.

Don Sitter and Brice Hansen are working together to complete the meticulous task of preparing the ice for the upcoming curling season. Sitter monitors a stopwatch attached to a hose that floods the rink with deionized water. He has to keep an eye on the the stopwatch to ensure the hose delivers the right amount of water to each section of the rink.

Every 60 seconds, he must make a pass and start back to the other side of the ice sheet with Hansen ensuring the extra hose doesn’t get in Sitter’s way or come in contact with the water before it freezes.

The pair have already completed the 90-minute task six times — and will do it once more before they begin to manicure the rink to avoid curlers’ complaints about rough ice when the season starts in a couple of weeks.

The rink needs only 1 inch of ice; however, Sitter and Hansen must flood it an eighth of an inch at a time to prevent dips and high points. Curling stones must slide down the ice in a consistent and predictable way.

“If you just flooded a whole inch of water, the rocks wouldn’t play true at all,” Sitter said. “We literally have to go out here and flood it eight times to get 1 inch thick.”

With the new season about to begin, the curling club is hosting a couple of open houses and a “Learn to Curl” class through Lake Superior School District Community Education. The events give opportunities for residents to try the sport at little to no cost.

“The open houses are strictly that — we’ll throw four to six experienced curlers out on the ice,” Sitter said. “Anybody who shows up, we’ll get you out on the ice, show you how to throw a couple of rocks and show you what’s going on with the game of curling.”

The community education classes will offer more formal training for newcomers, with students participating in a full game on the second half of the two-night course.

Sitter and Hansen both said the game is easy to learn. Notices can be effective team members in just a couple weeks of practice, but the strategy can take a lifetime to master.

“It’s a game of both skill and finesse with the complexity of a chess match, seriously,” Sitter said. “There is so much to the strategy that after three years I thought I knew a lot and after six years I realized I didn’t know anything.”

Hansen said he liked the opportunity to compete against yourself and improve as much as he did the competition against other teams.

“Not only are you competing against your opponent, you’re competing against your own knowledge and abilities,” he said. “When I’m throwing a shot, there is nothing the other team can do to change that shot. It’s all where I throw it, how hard I threw it, how I read the ice or if Don has made the ice right.”

The open house will be 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Community education classes will be 7-9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

For more information, call the curling club at (218) 834-2664. To register for classes, contact LSSD Community Education at (218) 834-8201 ext. 8230.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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