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Circle City Curling Club capitalizing on curling’s Olympic popularity

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It captivates audiences every four years and is one of the most popular events of the Winter Games, but what exactly is curling?

“Curling is chess on ice and a whole lot of fun,” Jeff Heck said with a laugh, who was one of the founding members of the Circle City Curling Club.

A fascination with the sport led to the creation of the club in 2007, and its coverage during the Olympics is the strongest tool in recruiting new members.

“Last Olympics was when I got started, I literally Googled ‘curling Indianapolis’ and found out about the club and now I’m the vice president,” Adam Van Zee said. “I think that the biggest interest is it’s one of those Olympic sports you can try.”

And try I did, getting the basics of coming out of the hack, which is similar to a track and field starting block, and the delivery of the 42-pound stone down the ice.

"I liken it to a bowling delivery, and you have to get that stone to stop 125 to 130 feet down the ice, all while aiming, turning, sliding, not falling over,” Heck said.

Well, on my fourth attempt, I failed miserably on the “not falling over” aspect of the sport, but managed to get the stone into the house, which is the painted red and blue rings at each end of the sheet.

With four players on a team, each delivering two stones, every curler plays a role.

"Everybody on the team is important and everybody has to do their part,” Van Zee said.

Each stone is an opportunity to score or block your opponent from doing so.

"You want to get more of your stones in that painted house area closer to the center area than your opponent,” Heck explained.

And just as important as the delivery is the oh-so intriguing strategy of the sweep.

"A stone is going to curl, it curves like a curve ball, once it's on a certain path, we get them sweeping harder and will keep the stone going straight and will make it go a little further,” Heck explained. “Good sweepers like in the Olympics can make a stone go 20, maybe 25, feet further than it would have gone."

And one of those aspiring Olympians could be right here in the Circle City.

“If you win the right tournaments, you can get to the Winter Olympic Games from our club, we are a USA sanctioned club,” Heck said.

To sign up for an upcoming “Learn to Curl” or join the Circle City Curling Club, click here.

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