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PAUL AIKEN
Doug Jones and Matt Flynn sweep in front of a stone during play of the Nederland Curling Club at the Nederland Ice & Racquet Park on Monday.

http://www.youtube.com/v/DyNdv5l3efs&hl=en_US&fs=1&

If you go

What: Learn to Curl

When: Starts at 11:15 a.m. on Saturdays this month

Where: Nederland Ice and Racquet Park

Cost: $9 for Nederland and Gilpin County residents; $13 for everyone else

More info: nedrink.com

The Nederland Curling Club might not have come to be if Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush hadn’t cancelled a 2008 concert in Denver.

“Frank hurt his back, the show is cancelled, so we go upstairs and have a beer,” said Mike Hermann, of Nederland.

Before he knew of the cancelled show, Hermann headed down to Denver with Nederland residents Al and Terri Leiser. Marino is from Canada, and their conversation turned from Canada to the Olympics to curling — the sport of delivering a stone down a sheet of ice in an attempt to bull’s-eye a target. Turned out they were all fans.

“We said, we have a rink up here, I bet we could get some stones on eBay,” Hermann said.

Thus the idea for the Nederland Curling Club was born. But first, they needed the heavy, polished stones to push down the ice, and club’s three founders were surprised by how expensive they were.

“Al found one on eBay for $300, and that’s a used stone,” said Nancy Stubbs, who curled with the club for the inaugural season last winter. New ones were $800.

When the Leisers drove down Boulder Canyon, Al would have Terri (his wife) stop so he could look for appropriately-sized-and-shaped river rocks, Hermann said. “We started talking about drilling holes in and putting old bicycle handlebars in them. We started going old school.”

Fortunately, said Stubbs, the budding club picked up used stones through the Denver Curling Club. The Leisers took curling lessons through the club and taught everyone else on Nederland’s ice rink, which is dug into the side of a hill at 8,500 feet and surrounded by forest — and open air.

“We’re more pond curling, old style,” Al Leiser said.

“You’ll see the Olympic curlers get down and blow ice away,” Terri Leiser said. “This is like four-wheel drive.”

This winter, the four-team, 17-person league has played three times a week; the curlers are men and women of all ages.

“When you start playing, it’s just engrossing,” said Al Leiser.

Hermann added that because of the strategy, some call curling “chess on ice.”

The season ends Feb. 27 and 28 with the club’s Bonspiel, or curling tournament. The teams will compete for two trophy cups the Leisers hunted down at a Salvation Army store last year.

“We had two rules: You had to be able to drop it and not break it, and you had to be able to obviously drink out of it, kind of like the Stanley Cup,” Al Leiser said. “But we etched the names of all of the teams in there, the names of the members of the winning team.”

The cups are housed at Nederland’s Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery — official brew-pub of the curling club, Leiser said.

(Hermann: “They actually let us put a shelf up for it.” Leiser: “Yeah, we took a shelf from my house and put it up.” Hermann: “We’re in there five days a week. They call me ‘Norm’ there.”)

But why chase a stone with a broom in single-digit temps (as the club did on nights a reporter and photographer visited) in the first place?

“It’s snowing, we’re out in the woods, it’s beautiful out here,” Stubbs said.

“We’re often the only ones on the ice on Monday and Thursday nights, and we’re all friends, and we all dig one another. We’ve got some really great friendships and really great camaraderie.”

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