Millions of Canadians watched Kerri Einarson’s rink — from Gimli, Man. — win a second consecutive championship at this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but for one American sportswriter, catching a bonspiel for the first time was an eye-opening experience.
North Carolina-based Shane Ryan’s piece in Golf Digest, entitled ‘Forget everything else in life and watch Canadian curling,’ details the way the sport unexpectedly “seduced” him.
“There’s something serene and hypnotic about curling, but it’s also just dramatic enough, and satisfying with the geometry,” Ryan told 680 CJOB.
“It does make the perfect pandemic viewing experience.”
Growing up in upstate New York, Ryan said he had plenty of exposure to hockey, but when it comes to Canada’s other winter obsession, he was a complete newcomer aside from occasional glimpses of Olympic competition over the years.
When an Ottawa-based colleague started a gambling pool for the Tournament of Hearts, Ryan said he thought he’d watch one match and that would be it, but he was immediately hooked.
“A week later, I’m basically a convert. I’m completely obsessed with the sport, looking forward to the Brier — I know what the Brier is now — and it’s completely seduced me.”
As a golf writer, Ryan said the pace of golf and curling has elements in common — on top of both sports being invented in Scotland.
“I think even something about the experience of watching a long putt track to the hole is vaguely similar to watching somebody curl toward the button,” he said.
“It draws you in, and you can’t look away… it’s kind of slow and peaceful, and peaks in these moments of drama.”
Even after the Tim Hortons Brier — which kicks off this weekend inside the Calgary bubble — is complete, Ryan has designs on furthering his newfound love for the sport.
“I’m in Durham, North Carolina, and believe it or not, there’s a curling rink here,” he said.
“So I think maybe at some point, after it opens during the pandemic, I could go and curl.”
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