Come out Monday nights to curl at Main St. Arena: “Swept up in Olympics, locals form curling league | Daily Progress”

Having watched curling in February’s Winter Olympics, Alison and Craig Wilson did not hesitate to sign up for Charlottesville’s newly established beginners’ curling league.

Curling just seems so civilized,” said Alison Wilson, a dog trainer from Albemarle County. “Very polite and civilized.”

Craig Wilson, a manufacturer’s rep, said the sport was attractive to them because it involves a high level of strategy and skill and can be mastered by those in middle age.

“Once we saw it at the Olympics, we thought, ‘We have to do this,’” he said. “You can be in your 40s and be a world champion.”

The Main Street Arena, formerly the Charlottesville Ice Park, on the Downtown Mall, launched last week what is believed to be the first curling league in Virginia.

Curling, a winter sport dating back to the 16th century, involves two teams of four that take turns pushing a heavy, polished stone across a sheet of ice, with points accrued by sliding the stone closest to the center of the goal, which is known as the house.

One team member delivers the stone, which spins slowly — or curls —in a slight arc as it travels down the ice toward the house. The team’s captain, or “skip,” directs the action. And two others sweep the ice with brooms, smoothing the ice in the stone’s path.

Sweeping the ice reduces friction, allowing the stone to slide a bit farther and straighter and possibly reducing the amount of curl.

“People call it shuffleboard on ice. That’s an insult,” said Will Van der Linde, the arena’s general manager and curling director. “It’s actually chess on ice. It is very, very strategic.”

The inaugural season of Charlottesville’s curling league will meet each Monday night over six weeks.

Last week, six teams of four players apiece took part. One team named itself the Sweeping Beauties. Another foursome, from Earlysville, was the E-Ville Curlers. Yet another, for some reason, asked to be called the Caspian Sea Fish.

Like other adult league sports, beer played a role in the city’s new curling league. Van der Linde told the players they were welcome to imbibe beer or wine purchased from the arena’s bar, but asked that they keep their beverages in the ice rink’s penalty box because alcohol has a higher freezing temperature than water and might mess up the ice.

“It’s a good, social, beer-drinking kind of sport,” said Jake Busofsky, a Charlottesville resident who recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and is a member of the curling league.

Meg Franco, who teaches kindergarten at Meriwether Lewis Elementary in Albemarle, said she chose to join the league in order to “have fun with friends and learn a new skill.”

“If we have a winter like we did last year, this’ll give us some entertainment when we don’t have power for five days,” she said.

Despite curling’s gentleness, Franco was mildly nervous before trying the sport for the first time.

“I’ll be the one on crutches by the end of the night,” she said.

The cost for joining the Main Street Arena’s curling league is $500 for a team of four. For more information, go to

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