Pittsburgh Curling Club looks to draw new participants

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Don't be fooled by the cold and the snow. This is still Pittsburgh, not Canada.

Oh, but tonight, there may be curling Downtown.

Weather permitting, the Pittsburgh Curling Club (motto: "Fun is just a stone's throw away") plans to demonstrate curling techniques and offer lessons from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Eighth Street and Penn Avenue.

"It's not very often that you get to check out something that is unique and different," said Leigh White, spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, one of the organizers for tonight's Night Market event. Curling will be one of the attractions to draw people Downtown.

The sport of curling may be a more common sight in Canada than here, but it's not new to Pittsburgh.

Shortly after the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which featured competitive men's and women's curling for the second consecutive time, some interested Pittsburghers created the Pittsburgh Curling Club. Steve Buffington, a 54-year-old engineer who lives in Moon, decided to try the sport with his wife.

"We kind of came out and tried it, just as a lark, I'll say, and we fell in love with it," said Mr. Buffington, who is now president of the club. "It's really a very fun sport."

Curling, a game with Scottish origins, is played in teams of four, with teammates working together with brooms to slide heavy granite stones (or "rock") across a sheet of ice so they stop as close as possible to the center of a target called the home. Tonight's demonstration, since it will be on asphalt instead of ice, will involve what the club calls "land rocks," or stones with wheels.

The Pittsburgh club, with about 100 members who practice on the weekends at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Neville Island, has its own target: to open up a dedicated curling facility near Mars in time for the February 2014 Winter Olympics. The facility is in the fundraising and design phase.

A rink of their own will give Pittsburgh curlers more time and space to play, allow the club to host large tournaments and will make the sport a known entity in the region, Mr. Buffington said.

It could also give curlers with Olympic aspirations a place to train.

Curlers such as Jacki Temple, a 36-year-old artist who lives in Shaler and started curling a few years ago. She says she "fell in love with it on the spot" and wants to train for the Olympic curling team in a few years.

"It's actually a real goal that I have," she said. Her aim is for the 2018 Olympic games.

Tonight's curling demonstration is dependent on the weather. Check downtownpittsburgh.com for updates.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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