About Marshfield Curling Club

Curling a Sport For All Ages

During the long winter months of Wisconsin, curling is the perfect sport to keep active throughout the season. Played on a long sheet of ice where frozen beads of water create a textured playing surface, curling is played by two teams who compete against each other to strategically glide rocks to a bulls eye called the “house.” The object is to get the team’s rock closer to the center of the house than the opposing team.

An Olympic sport since 1988, the sport is enjoyed across the United States, and a local club makes it easy to play. Club President Jacob Roberts has been involved with the Marshfield Curling Club for six years since moving to the area from the Upper Peninsula. He became hooked on the sport at a Learn to Curl event, held every year in late October and early November.

Last season, the Marshfield Curling Club boasted 104 members, about 75 of those adults. More couples seem to be getting involved in the sport together, noted Roberts, though they may play on different leagues. Ages of members range from junior high to over 80 years old.

“It’s nice because you can do this at any age,” he said. Those who can’t easily bend down to move the rock can instead use a stick, a popular way to keep playing despite age or bad knees. He added that a big misconception about curling is that falls are common, but the textured surface of the ice means it’s far less slippery than glare ice.

During the second half of the year, the club hosts a beginner’s league on Mondays that lasts four weeks. The sessions are more about learning to play than winning, and each beginner gets paired with an experienced player who will teach them how to curl.

“To get involved, the best thing to do is to come down here and try it,” said Roberts. “We do events on the weekends and sometimes we’ll have open houses.”

Players don’t need a team already in place in order to curl at the club, but are assigned to a team. Roberts encourages interested players to check out the informational meetings the first week of November to find one. This year the informational meetings are as follows: Tuesday, Nov 7 at 6:30, Wednesday, Nov 8 at 6:30, Thursday, Nov 9 at 6:30, and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 4:30.

Leagues are offered every day except Friday and Saturday. Players can join whichever league they want, or more than one, though there are differences between the leagues. Sundays are casual nights for families, Monday is competitive, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have fun leagues open to men and women, and Thursdays are for men’s leagues.

There’s also a high school team. A few years ago, both boys and girls teams made state semi-finals in Wausau. A women’s league has been discussed, but low female membership has postponed any plans for now. “With only twenty members, it’s hard to get that started,” explained Roberts.

While teams play against each other internally at the club, either for competition or fun, players can easily find tournaments around the country.

“You can really make curling what you want it to be,” he said. “There’s a tournament every weekend somewhere, you just have to register.” Bonspiels last all weekend and can be great experiences for players to try other curling facilities and compete against new people. They are also an opportunity to curl year-round as some clubs will keep their ice throughout the year.

An unofficial rule of curling promotes sportsmanship among teams after a game. “The losers prep the ice for next game, and then the winners buy drinks for the losers,” said Roberts. “So win or lose, there’s something in it for you.”

Prepping the Ice

Located in the Marshfield Fairgrounds, the club begins setting up in late September and tears down in March. After much prep work, a group of dedicated club members start the ice process by laying down plastic and refrigerator coils with insulation.

The area is flooded with water and built up to a certain height before the rings and lines are laid down. Then another layer is formed and the surface is pebbled with water droplets to create a textured playing surface. At the end of the season after the ice has melted, the curling club removes all the curling equipment so the building can be used as an expo building for the fair.

Ice is prepared differently from club to club and changes the way the rock will glide on the ice and curl, mostly based on factors like ice temperature, water purity, and methods of pebbling.

“Going to different clubs is a lot of fun because you can play the same ice every day, learn the speed, and you know which way it’s going to curl. Then you go somewhere else and it’s totally different,” explained Roberts.

After a game, the ice is brushed to remove dirt and paint, and then pebbles are made again. Afterwards, a straight blade called a nipper brushes over the ice to make more rounded pebbles, reducing friction over the surface area of the rock and allowing it to travel farther across the ice.

To maintain the facilities, the Marshfield Curling Club fundraises with events like its yearly raffle party, which is a night of food, drinks, and music. During the event, $7,900 is given away in raffles to those who buy a ticket. Due to the popularity of this event, the curling club only sells 300 tickets.

The club also spends their summers fundraising as they sells drinks at the fair and during Dairyfest. Additionally, the club hosts an invite-only Lobstein Spiel, a mixed bonspiel with a lobster and tenderloin dinner Saturday night and fun all weekend. Wall-mounted sponsorships are also another opportunity for fundraising.

Whether young or old, become involved in this increasingly recognized sport and join the Marshfield Curling Club for fun all winter. Visit their website for more information.