BOZEMAN - As the weather gets colder, we're turning to our favorite winter sports. But in Bozeman, it's not just hockey and skating that are getting people excited to get on the ice. Curling, for many, is thought of about once every four years: when it appears in the Winter Olympics. But for a considerable amount of people in Bozeman, curling is more than just a sport; it's a community.
In the four years since its inception, the Bozeman Curling Club has drawn in a whopping 180 members, forming 26 competitive curling teams. Before it was a curling club, Bozeman Curling founding members played with the Bozeman Parks and Rec League in an outdoor space. A growing love for the sport inspired those original members to move inside, ending up at the Ressler Motors Ice Rink at the Gallatin Fairgrounds. In the early years, players had to draw circles on the ice themselves. But now, they play on a large ice rink with painted-in lines and valuable granite curling stones from Scotland.
The grassroots effort continues to grow with monthly "Learn to Curl" lessons like Sunday's, which attracted dozens of potential curlers.
The goal of the sport is to slide heavy, granite stones on ice toward circular targets. Points are given for how close players can get their series of stones, or "rocks," to the center of the target. Brooms are used to change the makeup of the ice and guide the rock.
Nathan Green, President of the Bozeman Curling Club, says that with the exception of yelling, rocks, and sweeping, curling is pretty much "chess on ice."
"There's a great deal of strategy that's being executed throughout the game," Green explains.
Both on the ice and off, teamwork is an essential part of the sport. Nik Grout, a curling player, joined in the club's early days as a way to hang out with his friends. Now a member of the club's Board of Directors, Grout finds satisfaction in seeing how the club has grown.
"It's been a long journey," he explains, "and it's really cool."
Green says he loves every part of the sport, but is especially taken by the combination of athleticism and sportsmanship: "It's just a beautiful game, all around."
Even with a competitive season running from November to late spring, the Bozeman Curling Club has grown consistently. Every year, more competitions and teams are added, and every year, more people show up to play.
Says Green: "It's like the Field of Dreams scenario, where 'if you build it, they will come.'"
Anyone can join the club. If you're interested in being a part of the Bozeman Curling Club, it's about $80 a season for gear and competitions, along with a one-time $50 membership fee.
To Learn to Curl: https://bozemancurlingclub.com/index.php/club-events/club-calendar