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Listen up … curling used to be on the radio

Reading Ted Clarke’s story in the Citizen last week about the epic Brier showdown between Ron Northcott and Kevin Smale brought back memories.

We lived right across the street from the Smale family in those days, so we had even more of an interest in the game. The neat thing I remember was that the game was broadcast live on the radio in Prince George.

Yes, that’s right, curling on the radio. I think of that now and can’t help but picture how primitive it all seems, but at the time it was great stuff.

I can’t remember if the whole family was gathered around the radio, but I know I was listening to every shot. I did not have the same encyclopedic knowledge of the sport I have now (Editor’s Note: Say what???), but I could follow along.

I think of this as I’m following the opening draw of the World Men’s Curling Championships in Las Vegas. I’m keeping track of the scores through the World Curling Federation site, which updates every game end-by-end, with total player stats too if you want them.

Things have changed, but even as my memories of curling on the radio fade with time, I can still remember how thrilled I was that we could even listen to the game – live!

I last curled many years ago, in what was called the Town and Country League in High Prairie, Alberta. Basically, you let the person in charge know you were free Friday evening and they put the teams together from what they knew of each person’s abilities.

I started as a lead and eventually worked my way up to third. (There was no WAY they were going to trust me as a skip.) I enjoyed the fact you curled with different people each week, most of whom you already knew because High Prairie was a pretty small community.

My skips figured out fairly quickly that when they were deciding what shot they should call for me, it was pretty straightforward. Make it a simple shot, but make it one where if I missed it, the chance for an even better shot was there.

They knew not to give me the hard shot to start with, because there was no way I was going to make it.
I have to say, though, my brush-holding ability for my skip was better than one player I saw years ago at a bonspiel in Burns Lake. He would set the broom where he wanted the shot to go, then, when his teammate was halfway through his delivery, the skip would hear a shout from one of the other sheets and turn to see what was going on.

And move the brush at the same time.

It didn’t help his teammates aim their rocks correctly, but, as I said, it was a fun bonspiel.

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