The Winter Olympics won’t start until next month, but curling enthusiasts will be on the ice this weekend.
The Aberdeen Curling Club is hosting the Broomsnapper Bonspiel on Saturday at the Holum Expo Building.
The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude with championships around 6:30 p.m. Players from Aberdeen, Yankton and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be among those competing.
Mark Tolvstad of Mellette serves as President of the Aberdeen Curling Club and Vice President of the Dakota Territory Curling Association (which includes South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana).
The 62-year-old Tolvstad got hooked on the sport eight years ago and curling has been a big part of his life ever since.
He still recalls the first time he tried it.
“The minute we touched that stone, man there was something that shot through your body saying this is quite a sport,” Tolvstad said.
However, he said as much fun as the sport is, those involved in it are even better.
“It’s not so much the game itself as the people that are involved in curling and the people you’re curling against,” Tolvstad said. “They’re like a family.”
He equates curling to the sport of golf.
“Everybody can have some bad shots and then all of a sudden you hit that good shot and that just keeps you alive and vibrant,” he said. “Curling is like that.”
Curling is a team sport and chemistry plays a huge role, according to Tolvstad.
“When you make a shot as a team, that’s amazing,” he said. “No one person makes a shot. It’s a team that does it. That’s quite a rush when you accomplish that.”
Tolvstad said there are currently about a dozen teams in the Aberdeen club. Members include men and women, young and old. He said curling is an inexpensive sport requiring a decent pair of shoes and a broom.
League takes place one a week from October to mid-February (although some curlers compete year around). He said there are two open curls set for Jan. 16 and Feb. 14 open to anyone who wants to give the sport a try.
Tolvstad said there is lot that takes place during the sport of curling, including a ton of strategy as one team competes against another.
“It’s like chess on ice. You want to set up angles,” Tolvstad said. “You’re always trying to play two shots ahead. Everybody on the team is so important for accomplishing that.”
Tolvstad said soon everybody will be watching curling during the Olympics, but won’t quite get all that is involved in the sport.
“Everybody will tell you, ‘Man, I really love watching curling on TV. I really love it. It’s really fun.’ And they don’t understand it, but they love watching it,” Tolvstad said. “There is so much going on in that game once you play it and the more you play it and understand it. The speed of the rock a tenth of a second faster or slower equivalates to six feet farther or shorter.”
Tolvstad, who once played on the United States squad that won the Chairman’s Cup championship against Canada, is also a curling instructor as well as an official.
He said literally anybody can play the sport. He noted he has seen players from age 12 all the way up to 80 on the ice competing.
He encourages everybody to give it a try. More information can be found at www.curlaberdeen.com
“Go give it a try. It’s really something. Don’t be afraid to try it,” Tolvstad said. “When the US won gold in 2018, we were the second fastest growing country for curling in the world right behind China.”
Tolvstad said his only regret is that he didn’t take up the sport until his mid 50s. He believes he will be able to curl for many, many more years to come.
“I always tell this to people: ice preserves you. Look at the mammoths that come out of the glaciers from a couple of thousand years ago. They look just like new and I feel that’s what ice is doing to me,” Tolvstad said. “When you get on that ice, man, I mean you just come alive for two hours and there’s nothing funner than that.”
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