Turn on the sports channel for any length of time and you're likely to see some injuries happen. There are some pretty rough and risky sports out there.
Then curling comes on, and it's so very civil in comparison. Nobody is hitting anyone, so the chances of being hurt seem slim.
Yet you may find yourself wondering how in the world curlers aren't falling over and getting hurt, given they are playing on ice. You wonder if it's just another thing the elite players do better, and if beginners at the curling clubs have to learn how to walk before they can play.
So for our latest edition of our curling Q & A, we are talking about safety. This one is for you if you read our last post about fitness and decided you're physically up for curling, yet you find yourself literally nervous to step out on the ice.
This post is part of a series called "Curling — What the Heck?" The goal is to answer all the questions people have about Curling, especially if they have never played the game before. If you'd like your question answered, feel free to comment here or on our Facebook page. Or, you could just come out to our FREE upcoming Learn to Curl sessions.
Q: I struggle with walking on my driveway every winter… I’m not sure I could manage playing a game on ice? How do you curl without falling down?
A: As with any sport, there are some risks. Naturally, a game taking place on ice adds some chance of falling. However, it is not as common as you might expect.
First of all, curling ice is nothing like skating ice or the kind you find on your driveway after a March storm. Curling ice has a special “pebbled” surface which makes it rougher — and therefore less slippery to walk on — than typical ice.
Secondly, when curling, we wear “grippers” on our feet whenever we are out on the ice. These sticky overshoes allow you to walk on the ice very safely. The only time you need to use a “slider” (the special slippery shoe sole) is when it’s your turn to throw the stone. And even then you still have a gripper on the other foot and a broom in hand to help you balance! [Don’t worry if you'd like to try curling but don’t own this equipment. The Shelburne Curling Club has grippers, sliders, and brooms to lend to participants.]
Q: I’ve had a head injury and need to be very careful about falls? Is curling an option?
A: Of course, if you are still in recovery we aren't the ones to tell you when you’re ready. However, if you are concerned about head injury for ANY reason, there are some great products now on the market for head protection. They look just like regular hats or headbands, but reduce impact if the head contacts the ice or boards. After all, falls are uncommon, but they can happen. [Note: The kids who curl always wear helmets out on the ice.]
Q: Are there any other safety concerns in curling?
A: Apart from the small risk of falling, curling is a very safe sport. There is no contact, and you can participate at the level of physical intensity that feels right for you.
However, there is one danger. We’re not sure this is scientifically proven fact but it’s only fair to warn you: curling may be addictive! It seems like many of our members just couldn't get enough once they tried curling for the first time.
If you think it's safe to try curling, the best thing to do is join us for our Learn to Curl sessions taking place October 22-25 at 7 pm. Our instructors will cover safety before they get to the rest of the game, so you can have a fun while minimising the risk of falling. To sign up go to www.shelburnecurling.ca/try-curling or call the club at (519) 925-2011.