Curling: A new craze in Sioux Falls? - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Curling: A new craze in Sioux Falls?

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At first glance, curling looks like a strange sport but thanks to the Olympics, it continues to grow in popularity. In fact, these 42-pound stones are already starting to be hurled on Sioux Falls ice as one man's curling dream is quickly becoming a reality.

"This is awesome for me personally it's like my work is paying off being able to see people on the ice and enjoying themselves." Said Jim Marko.

Dozens of University of Sioux Falls students and alumni took to the ice of the Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation Center to get their first taste of curling. Tuesday marked the school's 8th annual campus winter games and first time casting actual stones, all thanks to Sioux Fall Curling Club President Jim Marko. The club recently purchased all the equipment necessary to practice and compete right here in the city.

"The sliding is not that difficult you just need to line up with your skip." explained Austin Weber, a curling club member turned instructor.

Weber took his group of greenhorns through the correct form of balancing in your stance, stepping into the hack, lunging forward, and releasing the stone to the target on the opposite side of the rink.

"You don't have to be a wild man throwing those stones all the way down the ice. They'll carry their own weight and make it down there." said Marko.

Much like a child's first steps or Bambi's first encounter with ice, the first attempts were a bit awkward. After a few practice tosses and getting a feel for the form, the bonspiel was underway.

"Curling isn't that hard, curling is actually pretty easy!" Said Marko.

That opinion wasn't entirely shared by this group.

"I was definitely not expecting this level of difficulty for sure!" Said USF freshman Christian Schwab, after he watched his stone briskly sail past it's intended target.

"It's hard! It's harder than it looks it's difficult to get the weight right, to get the turn right, and to know when to sweep and not too, and then even what shots to play, but then to execute those shots... it's a ton of fun, but it's difficult." Said Alex Heinert.

 Just seeing the number of newcomers interested in this sport left a big impact on Marko, who along with others in the curling club have been working hard to bring the sport to the city.

"This has been a work in progress for the last three winters and this year we been able to get some indoor ice and some equipment we've got an actual league starting April 5 and we're sitting roughly at 20 teams already!" Said Marko.

The USF contingent has been a group with the most interest in a Sioux Falls curling league. For the past seven years they've held their 'curling' events at city ice rinks; but instead of stones they used 5-pound weights wrapped in pie pans to hurl across the ice. Heinert, who created the USF games as a student in 2006, says it's crazy to see how far the campus contests have come.

"For it to be here now with the real stones in place, the lines painted on the ice, having a league starting soon, it's awesome! We're so excited about it!"

The goal is to score the most points by getting your stone closest to the button, or the center of the target. As stones collided and brooms were swept, you could tell that even if points weren't being scored, the curling greenhorns were definitely having fun.

"I've always loved watching it on TV and stuff so it's cool to actually get out here and play it, it's a lot of fun!" Said Schwab.

As the tournament drew to a close and the ice became vacant, the participants shook hands. each muttering two simple words.

"Good curling, good curling!"

Sioux Falls Curling league play starts in April but if you want more information there is an open house on March 15 at the Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation Center. The club's Facebook page is also a great source for other events and curling related news.

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