Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

In the midst of the winter Olympics, the Pittsburgh Curling Club is moving ahead with plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.




PHOTOS by john zavinski

 

Editors note: this article has been updated since it was first published on June 14, 2017. 

Pittsburgh may be a hockey town, but there’s room on the ice for a 42-pound granite stone and a pair of brooms.

Curling — the quirky Scottish sport that many Americans rediscover when the Winter Olympics roll around — is alive and thriving here, thanks to the Pittsburgh Curling Club (pittsburghcurlingclub.com).

Founded in 2002, the club was started by locals and expatriate Canadians who wanted to bring the sport to the city, according to board member Marie Rose. She and her husband, club President Steve Buffington, have been members of the club since its inception.

While in Canada in 2002, the couple happened upon a competition and was immediately fascinated. When they learned that a club was forming in Pittsburgh, “We headed right over,” Rose says. “We had to try it — and just like everybody else, we got hooked.”
 


 

NBC’s coverage of curling during the Winter Olympics serves as the typical entrée into the sport; it’s how both club Vice President Leonard Jarabek and five-year member Robert Suhr found the PCC. 

“It is just so different than anything I had ever experienced before,” Suhr says. “I thought that I would enjoy it when I tried it, but when I threw my first stone ... it just clicked for me. I just wanted to keep doing it.”

So how does one curl?

Curling is played by two teams of four people each. The teams attempt to slide “stones” — 42-pound slabs of granite mined on the Scottish island Ailsa Craig — approximately 150 feet down a sheet of ice and land them in the center of a bullseye 12 feet in diameter. Each team slides eight stones and also can block the target with stones to keep competitors from scoring or knock the opposition’s stones off altogether. The team whose stones are closer to the center gets a point for each stone closer than any opposing stone. Teams do this between eight and 10 times, depending on the level of competition, to complete a full game.
 


 

So, what’s the deal with the brooms? As the stone is hurtling down the ice, two curlers race ahead of it, brushing down the ice with specially designed brooms. The sweeping, done at the direction of the team captain, known as the skip, affects the distance the stone travels and how much it “curls.”

“It’s basically golf and chess on ice,” Suhr explains. “It’s a thinking-man’s sport.”

There are 95 members of the PCC, which lacks a dedicated home. The club plays at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Saturday nights. 

Members are hoping to change that this spring when ground is broken in Stowe township for a dedicated curling facility. 

“We have a lot more demand for people who want to curl than people we can actually put into our competitive league,” Jarabek says; a dedicated facility would allow for many more active members, as well as more installments of the club’s popular “Learn to Curl” events.

“We’re currently booking “Olympic Curling Experience” events,” says Buffington. “This is a 45 minute session with a quick introduction to the mechanics of delivering a stone and sweeping, followed by playing an end of a curling match.”
 


 

The building project, estimated to cost upwards of $1.4 million, also ensures the club will have a more professional ice surface on which to play and the ability to create more revenue by hosting “bonspiels,” or friendly competitions with other curling clubs.

For the past 12 years, the PCC has hosted the TropiCurl bonspiel in late June/early July; this year’s takes place from June 29 through July 2. It’s one of the largest single-location bonspiels in the United States; TropiCurl hosts 48 teams from across the U.S. and Canada.        

If all goes according to plan, the new curling facility will be open in the fall. 

“When we open our building, we’ll have league curling earlier on weeknights and other curling activities on weekends, including tournaments and open curling,” says Buffington. “We’ll [also] hold instructional leagues to introduce players to the sport and help them progress in skill and ability.”
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

USPS will dedicate a new forever stamp to Fred Rogers and celebrate with a party in March.

Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

For Cady Walter and Jared Heningin, happily ever after may never have happened if their mothers hadn’t acted as matchmakers.

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

After swine flu kept him from competing in Sochi in 2014, short track speed skater John-Henry Krueger finally won a spot on the podium at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Perspectives: A Better Life

A former Pittsburgh television reporter recounts the lessons taught to him by his grandfather who spent more than four decades as a Pullman Porter.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Phipps Legacy – The Fulton Building

With its distinctive seven-story archway, the Fulton Building (now the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel) remains a beloved Pittsburgh landmark.

Kick Back and Relax with a Baby Sloth

For $150 you can book an up-close hang out session with Vivien the two-toed sloth.

Jack Kerouac: Manager of the Pittsburgh Plymouths

In a league of his own making, the famous writer cast himself as the skipper of a (fantasy) Pittsburgh ball club.

Bucking the Trend: Gallagher’s Groovy Growing

Megan Gallagher is part of a small cadre of young farmers bucking demographic trends.

Meet the Woman bringing Dignity and Diversity to Twitter

As Twitter's vice president of intersectionality, culture and diversity, Candi Castleberry Singleton, who splits her time between Pittsburgh and San Francisco, works tirelessly to bring inclusion and respect to companies.

Where's the Flu Bug Biting Hardest? There's an App for That

The Doctors Report Illness Tracker has the scoop on germ hotspots all over the region and beyond.

Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Reviews of "Black Panther" and "Early Man," plus local movie news and notes.

First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein takes a look at the new Richard DeShantz restaurant ... and he has the scoop on what's next from the energetic restaurateur.

Meet Pittsburgh's James Beard Award Semifinalists

Pittsburgh has eight nominations in six categories.

Urban Beekeeping Creating Environmental Buzz in Pittsburgh

No backyard? No problem. The country’s first community apiary brings beekeeping to the city.

Dig In: The Next Wave of Pizza in Pittsburgh

Now is the time to be eating pizza in Pittsburgh. Pizza makers are crafting pies in a variety of styles from New York to Old World. We round up our nine favorite destinations.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

WQED Event to Celebrate Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

USPS will dedicate a new forever stamp to Fred Rogers and celebrate with a party in March.

Comments

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

After swine flu kept him from competing in Sochi in 2014, short track speed skater John-Henry Krueger finally won a spot on the podium at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein takes a look at the new Richard DeShantz restaurant ... and he has the scoop on what's next from the energetic restaurateur.

Comments

Avenue B is Closing

Avenue B is Closing

The Shadyside restaurant ends its 8-plus year run in a few weeks.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Where to eat, where to go, what to buy –– some of our favorites to make your Valentine's celebration memorable.

Comments

5 Best Ways to Go Beyond Regular Recycling

5 Best Ways to Go Beyond Regular Recycling

Recycling your cans is great. Recycling your couch is better.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

The North Shore concert hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments

Five Essential February Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential February Events in Pittsburgh

Pajama cinema, laser-aided indie rock, Pittsburgh punks and more February activities.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

They’re still playing hockey at the Winter Olympics, but without NHL players. Which means the guys doing the playing are relative nobodies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Comments

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

A year ago at this juncture, the Steelers could legitimately perceive the Patriots as the only team standing between them and yet another championship. Now, a lot more more than just one team is in the way.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Reviews of "Black Panther" and "Early Man," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

Reviews of "Fifty Shades Freed" and "The Cloverfield Paradox," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

Mothers Know Best for This Pittsburgh Couple

For Cady Walter and Jared Heningin, happily ever after may never have happened if their mothers hadn’t acted as matchmakers.

Comments

Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

We introduce the winner and the runners up for our biannual cookie table contest.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Great Mews: 68 Townhouses Underway for Lawrenceville

Great Mews: 68 Townhouses Underway for Lawrenceville

Located on the site of former Hanlon-Gregory Steel galvanizing plant, Mews on Butler should have its first townhomes ready for occupancy by fall.

Comments

Purple Reign: Decorating with Ultra Violet

Purple Reign: Decorating with Ultra Violet

Local interior designers detail how to incorporate Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year into your home.

Comments