Dear Dr Goldline: New Curler 101
An important note to our readers: Dr. Goldline is not a real doctor, in any way, shape or form; the moniker is used purely for entertainment value. In addition, the views expressed are entirely those of the author and not of management or any other curler. As the saying goes, “Put 3 lawyers/mathematicians/scientists (or curlers!) in a room and ask them the same question, and you’ll get 3 different answers”.
Dear Dr Goldline: I recently attended a Learn to Curl clinic. I was absolutely frozen by the time we got off the ice and I am now concerned about whether I will be warm enough out on the ice during a game. Have you got any suggestions on what I can do to stay warm?
Grasshopper: I assure you that you can stay warm without having to wear a snowmobile suit!
Ice sheds are cold: if they weren’t, the ice would melt! But the reality is that when you attend a clinic, much of the time is spent standing around watching your instructors and the other students practice their delivery and sweeping. In an actual game situation, you are going to be moving pretty constantly. If you are a front end player (ie: lead or second) as most new players are, you will only throw two rocks, but you’ll be sweeping six rocks. You’ll be moving up and down the sheet for 75% of the game!
Now, in my experience, most new curlers are not highly effective sweepers at the outset. They apply minimal pressure on the broom handle and they do not have a lot of speed in their sweeping motion. As you become a more effective sweeper, you will exert more energy and this will generate more body heat. As your sweeping efficiency increases, you may find that while you had multiple layers of clothing on at the start of a game, you have stripped down to a T-shirt by the time you reach the 3rd or 4th end of play.
Which comes to the next key point: in real estate, they say the key is location, location, location. In curling, it is layering, layering, layering. Undershirt, long sleeved turtleneck/shirt, vest, jacket: start with multiple layers and strip them off as you warm up over the course of a game.
Many new curlers go to their first clinic wearing running shoes and use a step on or slip-on slider. Sneakers are not well-insulated, so make sure to wear good thick socks. But don’t sacrifice fit for the sake of warmth. If your socks are so thick that you leave no wiggle room in your shoes, you’ll cut off the circulation and be colder than you were to start with. Curling shoes are a great investment if you plan to play the sport for a while as they are typically more insulated than your runners (they will also ensure greater stability in your delivery).
If your hands get cold, consider gloves. Gloves not only provide warmth, but they typically will provide superior grip on the broom handle. If gloves don’t provide the amount of warmth you require, mittens are also a good option.
Curling: proper clothes combined with good sweeping will ensure you stay warm out on the ice.