Curling Queen



Illustration by Patrick Neil

Every two years, there’s this thing I do: I watch the Olympics. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Summer or the Winter Olympics, I watch the opening ceremonies with the thousands of athletes with their hopes and dreams shining in their eyes.I watch the magic and the medals and the tears, and I think to myself, “I wish I could be an Olympian.”

But sports don’t come easily to me. I can’t run to save my life—literally. I play basketball like a Tyrannosaurus rex (you know, useless arms). I tried skateboarding, skiing and in-line skating once. And there’s a reason I stopped after “once.”

Knowing how ungodly unnatural I am at sports, I figured my Olympic dreams rested on either divine intervention or on what seemed the easiest sport of them all—curling.

How physically hard can this be? Wear these snazzy pants, push off of this thing right here, slide down the ice a little ways, let go of this round stone thing here, and voilà! Olympic glory.

In my heady post-Olympics state, I got in touch with the Pittsburgh Curling Club and set up a lesson. Dan, the instructor, met me at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center. His goal—to turn me from a worthless sack of nothing into an Olympic hero with an engraved invitation to the 2014 Sochi games, where Bob Costas would ask me questions such as, “How’s that gold medal feel hanging around your neck?”

The first thing that struck me about curling was this: Ice is very slippery. Then Dan handed me a slider that went under my shoe for the sole purpose of making the ice 900 million times more slippery.

I successfully pushed off and slid down the ice with the 44-pound stone in front of me quite ungracefully several times without falling. This pleased me. Then Dan said, “OK, this time, let’s try letting go of the stone.” I wasn’t aware how much balance was required to stay upright upon the “letting go of the stone,” especially a stone that I had apparently been using as a crutch.

The first time I fell, I was sliding so slowly it wasn’t so much of a fall as it was a gentle giving out of the legs. I smiled. Small setback. Every Olympian has setbacks. Look at Dan Jansen.

The second time I fell, the photographer from Pittsburgh Magazine was all, “[click click click] HAHAHA! This is so fun! Zoom in! [click click click].”

The third time I fell, I was moving so fast and my hip hit the ice so hard that I felt something shift in my back. Something … not good. I realized the reason they had me sign that waiver.

The fourth time I fell, my husband was snapping iPhone pictures of me rolling around on the ice like a seal and then posting them immediately to his Facebook account with captions such as, “Ur doing it wrong.” I questioned my decision to bring him along.

The fifth time I fell, I was focusing so hard on all the things I had to remember to do that I didn’t do any of them. I may have punched the ice in frustration. I don’t recommend this because the ice always wins.

At this juncture, I was getting better at staying upright but still hadn’t sent the stone more than 3/4 of the way to the target, which is on the other side of the rink, but it may as well have been in Uzbekistan.

The ever-patient, always-smiling Dan decided to give me a break so I could try sweeping. And I thought, well, sweeping in front of a stone. THIS I can do. 

But guess what? Sweeping is hard, exerting work that requires you to stay in front of a stone that seems to be traveling at 60 miles per hour, never touching the stone while moving your arms as fast as you can for, well, forever. After one turn at sweeping, the photographer was snapping pictures of me doubled over and breathing as if I had just run the 100-meter dash. With hurdles. While wearing ankle weights.

After 1 1/2 hours of curling, I had a bruise on my underarm from the “stabilizing” (hah!) broom. My hipbone hurt. My quads hurt. My lungs burned. My husband was informing the Internet how terrible I was at curling, and the photographer was all, “[click click click] Best day ever. [click click click].”

But here’s the thing—best day ever. So fun. So addictive. So frustratingly NOT EASY. I have a new respect for the sport and for its athletes.

As for me, my dreams of Olympic glory have not completely burnt out thanks to Plan B: Divine intervention. “Are you there, God? It’s me, Virginia.”


 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

Chefs Sonja Finn and Becca Hegarty helm the refurbished restaurant at the Carnegie Museums.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

For some reason Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest playoff rankings and Penn State is No. 7. That has to change if Penn State beats Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to these couples’ wedding ceremonies.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

An adapted version of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented during a seven-show run.

Comments