The Olympics are now over, alas, and our collective romance with curling will have to be put on ice for another four years. (On ice? Geddit? Har har har!) Or...maybe not. An enterprising group of St. Louisans is trying to start up the city's first curling club. After all, Kansas City has one. Why can't we?
Plans for a St. Louis curling club have actually been underway since the last Winter Olympics in 2006 when Bill McBride, a member of the Kansas City club, started a blog to drum up interest on this end of I-70. Since then, the St. Louis Curling Club has designed itself a couple of logos.
But progress has been made! Thanks to the Olympics, interest in curling has revived and more than 600 people contacted the St. Louis Curling Club. Last Saturday, February 27, some of them gathered at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood to watch the gold medal match between Canada and Norway (wearers of the most fabulous uniform pants in all sports) and plan ways the St. Louis Curling Club can sponsor an actual match.
The club's biggest obstacle is not lack of players. After all, this is
a sport whose greatest attraction is that old dudes and pregnant women
can play at the Olympic level. No, the problem is obtaining the proper
equipment. Not brooms. Stones.
As any dedicated Olympic-watcher knows (and you know who you are), curling stones are manufactured exclusively from rocks quarried from a small island off the coast of Scotland. It seems unfair that there should be such a monopoly on curling equipment, particularly since there are rocks everywhere, but there you have it.
The worst part is that each stone costs $800 and you need sixteen of them for a regulation match. That's a whopping $12,800, approximately 128 times the cost of the equipment required for a game of basketball. The St. Louis Club is hoping to obtain 64 or 80 stones in order to play several matches at once.
Last Friday, the St. Louis Curling Club borrowed four stones from a club in Rodger, Arkansas, and two of the local organizers, Nancy Rogers and Ira Blau, gave a demonstration for KSDK-TV (Channel 5):
If the club generates enough interest, the Kansas City group will bring its stones over to play. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Club has posted a schedule on its website of curling opportunities throughout the Midwest, if you feel like going on a road trip.