By Sandra McNeill

DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s a chance this weekend to see one of the oddest Olympic sports up close and personal.

Teams are coming from as far away as Toronto to take part in a tournament called a Bonspiel at the Detroit Curling Club in Ferndale.

Instructor Michael Grudzinski says curling is similar to Bocce ball, but on ice. The goal is to slide a 44 pound stone across the ice toward a target.

“Actually, all you’re trying to do,” Grudzinski said, ” is to get your stone closer to the center than your opponent’s closest stone.”

It’s a team sport with four members on each team. Everyone gets to slide the stone. The “skip” calls the shots and the other members sweep the ice quickly as the stone glides in. This creates a friction that heats up the ice surface and makes it more slippery. Depending on where it’s done, the sweeping can control the speed and the direction of the rock. It can make a huge difference.

“In fact, if you watch,” said Grudzinski, “some of the best sweepers can carry a stone almost ten feet further than if it was just left, you know, not swept.”

Interest in Curling has exploded in recent years. The oldest member of the club is over 90.

“Over the last 12 years, we’ve had a real big interest with 20, 30, 40-somethings and that’s what makes up most of our membership right now,” Grudzinski said. The crazy uniforms worn at the Olympics help, he said. So, no doubt, does the Curling tradition where the winning team buys the losing team drinks.

Leagues fill the lanes of the Curling club each weeknight. The weekends are rented out through the rest of the season, which ends in March. That’s why the tournament is so special: the public can enter the club to watch for free. There are games at from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

More info at this link.


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