Curling and the art of accomodating

Curling 1

Photo: Flickr / Peter Miller

The minute I saw Ken throw the stone, I knew I was in trouble. I wanted to learn how to curl—mainly because I had the opportunity through Ken—but I didn’t realize you had to squat down on the ice with a piece of Teflon under your left foot and hurl yourself across the ice. That was too out of control for me, too dangerous. Maybe, I wouldn’t end up on 1000 Ways to Die, but I could envision a thousand scenarios where I ended up on crutches for the next few weeks.

So, when one of the experienced curlers suggested our group of newbies squat down to get the feel for the position, I said to one of the other curlers, “This looks a little dangerous. Is there another way to do it?”

The woman—and everyone else within hearing—laughed, and even though I played along, I assured them I was serious.

“You can do it,” she said. “I’m not flexible at all, and I can get down like that.”

You’re also twenty-something, I thought, and I’m 45. And, getting into the position, I wanted to tell her, was only part of the problem. I was worried about the falling-down-and-not-being-able-to-get-back-up part.

Reluctantly, I practiced the squat on the tile floor with the others. I was far from graceful, but I didn’t fall.

I walked out on the ice with Ken and my sister, Kori, who had come with me. The ice wasn’t as slick as I had anticipated, but Ken had warned us both that if we fell, we needed to tuck our chin to minimize the impact. Players occasionally sustained concussions. Comforting.

Curling 2

Photo: Flickr / Benson Kua

After Kori’s successful attempt, I put my foot on the Teflon piece, called a slider, and started to unsteadily squat down.

“Can you get down further?” Ken asked.

Theoretically, I could, but I felt one millimeter from slipping and contorting into a painful position. So, instead, I opted to stand and use the stick, a perfectly legal way to deliver the stone when you curl. I knew my limits and my responsibilities—I couldn’t get hurt because Jerry hasn’t been released to drive yet.

Over the next two hours, I learned curling basics on the ice and played a quick game, and although I doubt I’ll join a league, I did enjoy curling. I would even try it again, if I was given the opportunity.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience:

Research before you go: We all have fears and some of us have physical limitations. Before you try something new, find out what it entails. I should have known how the game of curling was played.

Set your limits: You should push yourself and try new things, but know your limits—mentally and physically. If you are afraid of heights, avoid the EdgeWalk at the CNN Tower. If you have trouble climbing stairs, skip the Grouse Grind in Vancouver. Use common sense.

Ask for alternatives: Since Jerry hasn’t been medically released to drive yet, I can’t risk an injury that would prevent me from driving. I had to ask for an alternative way to curl. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, if they can, most people will do their best to accommodate your request.

Realize you may have to sit out: Of course, sometimes, alternatives are not possible. When I was offered the opportunity to go-kart, Jerry couldn’t come with me because there was no way he could get in and out of the kart or reliably steer. And, that’s okay.

live limitlessly: If it’s something you really want to do and there is no immediate alternative, don’t give up. We hope that some day Jerry will progress enough physically that he will be able to go-kart, and if I had kept digging, maybe I would have found a facility that could accommodate him.