14 March Maybe friendship. Or anyone can play. Regardless, curling has gained popularity and appeals to people as young as 3.
"I think a lot of people like it because it's very social and very popular," said Majory Olson of Mankato. “I grew up in New England, where we skied and hiked in the winter. There's not much to do here, but the curling club is down the road and it's the only one I know of.'
Olson is referring to the Mankato Curling Club, where he considers himself a newcomer to someone who has been playing there for 30 or 35 years. I have been playing for a year.
"The more advanced players are very helpful, supportive and very kind, which I don't find in other sports," he said. “Some other sports can be scary if you're not good. So curling seemed very attractive to me.''
Some describe curling as a chessboard game, where strategy is one of the keys to curling. Knocking off your opponent's rocks is important, as is agility and accuracy.
The sport really caught on with fans after the Americans won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics The Mankato Curling Club now has 250 members
"Obviously, the social aspect is really cool," said Jake Palmer, president of the Mankato Curling Club
"You don't have to be a top athlete for people to enjoy and appeal to sports. We see grandparents and grandchildren playing the same sport."
Also, all you need to start curling is a pair of tennis shoes and comfortable clothes. The curling club provides all the necessary equipment.
This makes it even easier to immerse yourself in the sport, as there is virtually no upfront cost
Mankato's Blake Grotewald said his only regret about curling is that he didn't start sooner. He was first introduced to the sport in 2019 when his wife's employer held a meeting at the Mankato Curling Club, and Grotevold said he immediately fell in love with it.
However, he said he was embarrassed to join because he didn't want his teammates to be stuck as a curly-haired rookie. Now he said he wanted to join the club then.
But a year ago, some friends decided to try their luck at a girls' club, and Grotewald agreed to join them.
"I immediately fell in love with the sport," he said. "It was interesting and fun. I was having a lot of fun with my wife's work, but I felt like I didn't want to let the team down and stuff like that.
"So I abstained. Then I had friends who wanted to learn to curl and I said yes, let's do it together. And we started last year. Looking back now, I wished.
"It's a 100% sport. It's family itself. It's a club, isn't it? And that's how sport behaves from the national level up. It's a club."
Olson compares curling to billiards, where you have to know your angles.
"It's the same idea," he said. “You want to try and hit a rock in one place and it's very difficult when you're so far away. You don't know how fast to throw or where to hit. This is a very, very strategic game. But very fun and very challenging.
"I've always been an athlete, I've always loved sports and I've always been active," he said. “When I watched curling at the Olympics, the announcer made it so exciting. Before that I thought it was very boring and why would anyone do that? But I wanted to try."
He loves his peers who support him and never argue with him no matter what he does. "If you have a terrible chance, it doesn't make you feel bad at all," he said.