Monday Magazine Playing with the Pros writer Kyle Slavin watches his rock as he tries curling for the first time at the Victoria Curling Club with Darren Boden from Team Dangerfield.

Play with the pros: Curling

Writer Kyle Slavin learns there's more to the sport than sweeping and throwing rocks

Why does the curling rink have to be so long? Honestly, the distance between the hack and the house was my downfall when I curled for the first time.

Not only was I exhausted from simultaneously striding and sweeping down the ice, it also took way too many attempts than I’d like to admit to finally slide the rock into the house.

To help solve the latter problem, Glen Allen, lead for Team Dangerfield, used the same technique on me that he does when he teaches children.

“Think of a gross food – like broccoli or brussels sprouts – and pretend it’s by your foot. And so you want to get as far away from it as you can by pushing hard,” Allen said.

And it worked. An overwhelming sense of pride fell over me as I watched Allen and second Darren Boden sweep my rock directly onto the button.

Granted that was only after my first 17 throws barely made it 20 feet, but nobody can take that feeling of ecstasy away from me.

Team Dangerfield, which also includes skip Neil Dangerfield and third Dennis Sutton, plays out of the Victoria Curling Club. They’re one of the best men’s teams in the province, and they are looking to be named the best in B.C. in early February, after recently earning a spot at provincials.

“Everyone (at provincials) is good. We’ve been playing enough and playing against enough top teams that we’re never intimidated by anybody. It’s just go out and play,” Boden said. “We know we can beat anybody on any given day, and they can beat us on any given day.”

Three years ago Team Dangerfield was runner-up at provincials, missing a chance to play at the Brier by just a couple of shots.

“We’d like to get into that final game again and see if we can turn the tables on whoever we have to play,” Boden said.

The 25-year veteran is quick to point out that my fatigue is indicative of my inexperience.

“There’s definitely a physical part of it, but most of it is a mental game and understanding where to place the rocks,” he said. “It’s chess on ice.” Well I was never any good at chess, anyway.

After only an hour on the ice, it’s evident that I’m nowhere near ready to incorporate strategy into my curling game.

“Give yourself 25 years,” Boden said.

Asked how confident he would be if Team Dangerfield became Team Slavin: “We wouldn’t be comfortable, at all, because you couldn’t make the shots Neil makes. Neil’s pretty amazing.”

And let’s not sugarcoat anything, despite a couple of personal victories in my first attempt at curling, I am far from amazing.

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