So maybe you’ve been counting down the days until the 2018 winter Olympics or you find yourself watching curling highlights on YouTube or you follow “Greatest Curling Shots” on Instagram. You’re curious about the sport and think it is weird or fascinating or looks like fun (it’s all of those, so you’re right).
But then you face the question: Now what?
Well, the Missoula Curling Club is all about introducing new people to the sport and creating opportunities for people to meet other players, learn the game and travel to curling tournaments around the region. We are a nonprofit located in Montana that plays our games at the Glacier Ice Rink at the Western Montana Fairgrounds.
This October we will host two learn-to-curl events where members of the club instruct newbies on how to deliver a rock, sweep, skip and score. Within 20 minutes you’ll be playing and then you can spend the rest of your life trying to get better at it.
Do I need equipment?
Although there are lots of things you could buy — shoes, crazy Norwegian curling pants, brooms, a set of curling rocks for $11,200 (Canadian), or a snazzy broom bag — you don’t need any of it to start. We have brooms, sliders to put over your shoes and (probably most importantly) the rocks. You come in comfortable, warm clothes and you can play (although I would not really recommend jeans or boots, cowboy).
Is it expensive?
It’s cheaper than skiing (or golf or hockey). But it does cost money. Most of our fees go directly to specific costs. We have to rent ice hourly from Glacier, we have to purchase insurance, we have to get new equipment from time to time and so we do have to charge folks. So, generally it costs $10 to learn to curl and then you have options for how to get involved.
Well, what are those options?
Oh, right. Well, first (and cheapest) there is an open curling time that the rink hosts once the outdoor ice goes in. Usually from 10am-1pm on Friday you can curl your heart out for only $10. You can practice throwing and there is almost always enough players to play a pick-up game. Once the ice goes in (usually toward the end of October) you can check the GIR schedule.
There are two different leagues, winter and spring. To participate in these leagues you must be a member of the club — which runs $71. That money is for membership in USA Curling and the regional curling association and to purchase insurance should you fall or get injured. We also use a small portion of those fees to cover the costs of running the club — equipment, etc.
Our most popular offering is the winter league. Teams play (on average) every other Saturday running from early November until March. Games are from 9-10:30pm or 10:30-midnight on Saturday night. Teams are made up of four-six players, although we can accept teams with more members, but email us to set that up.
There are two leagues — a competitive league and recreational league. The competitive league is usually for more experienced curlers and adheres to the (impressively long) set of USA Curling rules. The rec league is more casual and fun and for those who want to learn.
The league fees in 2017-2018 are going to be $420 per team. I know, I know. This money goes completely to ice times to cover the costs of rental. This comes out to $105 a person for at least 8 games of curling (perhaps more depending on your playoff form). We also encourage people to pursue sponsors for your team and that money can be tax deductible. Additionally, those costs can be spread over more players.
Spring League runs from April through late May or early June and is seven consecutive weeks of curling. The last couple of years it has happened on Monday night from 6:30-8pm in the indoor rink at GIR. This league is much cheaper — $70 for club members. Folks can register as individuals or teams.
How do I organize a team?
So if you want to do it but for some crazy reason have not convinced three of your friends yet can you play? Of course. Many of our players started out as individuals and were placed on a team. We encourage folks to chat at the learn to curls, but also reach out to the club at missoulacurling [at] gmail [dot] com to get some help finding a team.