Curling Rocks

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Admit it. You didn’t have a clue what was happening right in front of your eyes, but you sat glued to the TV for hours during the last winter Olympic Games, as broadcasters turned the spotlight on curling.

For days, you were fascinated by talk of stones and sweepers and “taking it to the house.” You knew the names of key players, and rooted for teams that weren’t even wearing red, white and blue.

Although an Olympic sport since 1988, curling seemed to garner little attention until a couple years ago, when Americans from coast to coast suddenly “discovered” this medieval Scottish game.

But out on Route 32 in the North Central Massachusetts town of Petersham, folks have been gathering for years to participate in curling competitions.  In fact, the Petersham Curling Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, may be one of New England’s best-kept secrets.

The club welcomes newcomers to its facility that features two sheets of ice and socializing amenities.  Open houses are held regularly. Curling clinics are offered for all ages and abilities.
The Olympic Games, however, may have been the best advertising the club could get. Suddenly, curling became a big hit. In case you missed the excitement, curling is a team sport that the folks in Petersham say “is both competitive and social yet steeped in a tradition of etiquette and fair play.”  Although played on ice, curling does not require an ability to ice skate; participants wear rubber-soled shoes.

Each player throws or slides a 42-lb.curling stone with a handle attached down a sheet of specially prepared ice. The ultimate goal is for the four-person team to have their rock(s) closest to the center of the target or “house”. Curling is often referred to as ‘chess on ice’.
While the basics are easy to learn, players say, the finesse and strategy of  “the roaring game” are never fully mastered.

So what’s with the brooms? The sweeping that viewers find so fascinating causes a slight melting of the ice, reducing the friction along the path of the stone. The harder the ice is swept, the further and straighter the stone will travel.

Sound simple? You can try your hand at this hot “new” sport in Petersham. Visit the club online at, or call (978)724-3210 to find out when open houses and clinics will be held. Go ahead, expand your horizons. Grab a broom, and take it to the house.