43
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      Curling's feats and regulations may surprise you

      Janice Hawrelak describes how a curling match is scored, which differs from many beginners' initial impressions. / Matt Waymire

      In the first part of our feature on curling, we introduced you to the basic concepts and mechanics of the sport, and perhaps some of the beginners who flock to the Midland Curling Club can one day match the remarkable achievement of a quartet of club veterans.

      One half of that foursome - Fred Strautman and Peter Dam of Midland - accomplished something even more rare than a hole-in-one in golf.

      "What you see before you here has only happened three times in the history of this Midland Club of Curling," began Dam, overlooking a re-creation of his team's achievement. "It's called an eight-ender, which means that all of our eight yellow stones counted for one end, and the opposition did not even count a rock in the end."

      "To give you an idea of the rarity of this, the club has been operating for 48 years, and this is only the third eight-ender that was scored in the club at that time," added Strautman. "And there's only been 32 eight-enders in curling, to date."

      A rare achievement indeed, almost as rare as a first-timer understanding how a traditional curling match is scored. As it turns out, there's more than meets the eye when looking at a curling scoreboard.

      "Scoring looks a little more unusual in a curling club. What is different for us is we actually show the points along the side, and then the end that you would actually score the point in will go in the count," explained club instructor Janice Hawrelak. "Sometimes, in championship competition, it will be opposite. They will put the ends up, you'll see the ends versus the points in the middle. But in a normal curling club, you will actually see the points along the inside. And an end for us is almost like an inning in baseball."

      So what can a newcomer expect when they walk through the doors of the Midland Curling Club for the first time? It's simply about learning the basics, and having fun.

      "We give them some instruction on just how to slide. Give them the reinforcement that you're doing well, if you're not falling you're doing fine," said club instructor Scott Schatzley. "And we continue to work with them, we'll get multiple rocks out, training wheels exercise. Then we'll break them onto curling with a broom, and then we'll actually get them throwing rocks down the ice."

      "We have folks out here that are 12 years old and 86 years old," added Midland resident Craig Murchison, who has been curling since 1972. "In fact, we have a retirees league that plays Thursday mornings. And the league was won last year with two members of the team that were 85 years old."

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