Skip Earl Frerichs throws a rock during the casual curling drop in that happens every Tuesday at the rink beneath the Arena.

Listen, can you hear the singing rocks of Nakusp?

Where can you find singing rocks? In the basement of the Nakusp Arena. The ice is in and the rocks are waiting for you in the curling rink.

Where can you find singing rocks? In the basement of the Nakusp Arena. The ice is in and the rocks are waiting for you in the curling rink.

On a wet Tuesday afternoon I popped in to join drop-in curling. Although I was definitely the most junior (and most inexperienced) player, I was welcomed and told to get a move on and throw a rock.

If you’re familiar with the sport you already know that throwing a rock isn’t the same as lobbing it into the air. And good luck with that anyway, because curling rocks are heavy – really heavy: they weigh between 17 and 20 kilos. No, chucking rocks in curling is a trick of balance, force, and spin.

I quickly put on a small rubber shoe cover, a slider, which is  a lot like rubber shoe protectors of old that shielded dress shoes from rain and mud (I don’t see a lot of them any more; I used to have a rubber pair for heels which were hilariously cartoony when worn without a shoe underneath). The slider allows your foot to slide on the ice as you get low and push the rock toward its target.

A word about the ice: it’s not flat, it’s kind of pebbly. I’d imagined the ice was like the rink upstairs in the arena, but not so. On the curling sheet (the play area), the ice is groomed to be a little bumpy, and the finished surface texture feels like hail has fallen, melted slightly and then refrozen. For those of you born with rocks in your blood, this is old news, I’m sure, but I was delighted.

Even more delightful is the sound the rocks make as they slide toward their target. They sing! As they curl (you put a slight spin on the rock when you throw it) over the orange-peel surface of the ice, the rock makes a beautiful meditative sound as it scrapes its way to the blue and red target.

But unless you’re throwing the stone, and throwing it well, you’ve got more important things to do than just listen to the rock sing. You’ve got housekeeping to do!

Earl Frerichs, our skip, hollered to get sweeping, scrubbing the path in front of the rock and smoothing the way so it will reach its destination. If the throw is too heavy, it will shoot too far and miss its mark. If it’s too light, it just won’t get to where it needs to go, but sweeping can help the rock along (if I were writing a hip hop song about curling, it would have to have the line “I’m throwing the rocks like little Miss Goldilocks: just right”).

The brooms are more like some kind of enlarged dish-scrubbing utensil to polish the pebbly ice in front of the moving rock. Adept curlers glide on their slider shoe just in front of the icy missile and scrub; I race in tiny steps to keep up and scrub as fast as I can.

Curling, when you know what you’re doing and are attempting more than just standing upright on the ice while figuring out how to throw or sweep, is a game of strategy, tactics and skill. I could see this, even though I hardly knew where to stand or what to do.

Points are awarded to the team with the rock nearest to the button, or centre point of the target, for not only that rock but any of their rocks that are closer to it than the other team’s nearest rock. Got that?

So what you want to do, ideally, is get as near to the centre as possible and not let any of the opposing team’s rocks get close. Once you know what you’re doing it’s more likely. As it was, one of my throws ended up in a good defensive position, luckily.

If you want to hear the stones sing, drop in to the curling rink at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, and you’ll be on the ice learning how to throw stones in no time at all. For more information on the drop in or the Men’s League (women are also welcome, but they have to wear a moustache in Movember, teased Charlie Granewall), you can call Brian Weatherhead at 250-265-3133.

 

Just Posted

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

East Kootenay mine deaths prompt safety initiatives

Teck produces educational video, introduces new procedures after contractor drowns at Fording River

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read