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Throwing Stones

Curling is a sport (yes, it is) of precision and patience. That’s why, when the 2014 Winter Olympics begin next month in Sochi, Russia, the Columbus Curling Club knows there will be no need to advertise in order to attract new members. “During the Olympics, people seek us out,” says Gordon Webster, a Canadian transplant [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Curling is a sport (yes, it is) of precision and patience.

That’s why, when the 2014 Winter Olympics begin next month in Sochi, Russia, the Columbus Curling Club knows there will be no need to advertise in order to attract new members.

“During the Olympics, people seek us out,” says Gordon Webster, a Canadian transplant who resides as the club’s president. “We have to shut down our league for a few weeks and in that time we have about 1,200 pass through our clinics.”

Every four years, curling, that “other” game on ice, suddenly becomes the trendiest sport at the games with televised matches piquing the interest of fascinated viewers around the world eager to learn and participate. Even with increased popularity though, finding a local curling sheet can be quite difficult in most American cities. Luckily for Columbus, we are home to one of the finest clubs in the country – but it wasn’t always this way.

The CCC was established in 2004. Back then they were sharing the ice at the Chiller North and needless to say, hockey ice is not the same as curling ice. There were a number of factors that made the facility less than ideal – from having to bring temporary hacks and lugging 40-pound stones, to the air temperature and humidity. As membership grew, though, so did the aspirations of the club, which led to finding a somewhat permanent home in an empty warehouse in Clintonville. Now, they boast three perfectly manicured sheets, ample lighting, a curling Zamboni, and an industrial size dehumidifier, the last of which Webster introduces like a proud father.

The upgrades allow for members to curl whenever they wish during their October to April season, though most of the 160 faithful prefer league play one or two nights a week. The new facility has also given the club some prominence in the United States Curling Association, allowing the CCC to host regional bonspiels (see glossary) and workshops led by world champions. While the CCC provides an idyllic scenario for seasoned curlers, Webster can’t stress enough the importance attending a clinic and learning the game before stepping out on the ice for the first time.

“Everyone thinks it’s easy,” he says, one the most common curling misconception, “or that it’s shuffleboard on ice. That’s the biggest insult. It’s actually a lot harder than it looks on television. I liken it to bocce and chess combined. Teams are always thinking about their next move.”

Contrary to perception, curling is very much a team sport. When a stone is thrown, each of the team’s four curlers, from the skip to the sweepers, have a hand in determining where that stone will end up in proximity to the button. As curlers switch roles every two stones, strategy is dependent on the skills of your fellow teammates. It’s something practiced even after matches in the newly constructed “warm” room over a round of beer.

Yet another reason to call the CCC one of the finest clubs in the country: they also have a liquor license.

“As you can see, the social aspect of curling is almost just as big as the game itself,” says Webster from the club’s bar, one equipped with windows provided to watch the competition. “It’s tradition that the winning team buys the losing team a beer.”

Does that tradition translate to Olympic competition?

“Actually the Canadian women’s team in 1998 supposedly lost the gold medal because they were too hungover from the night before,” remembers Webster. “The men won the gold, but the woman had to settle for silver because they just played horribly.” •

Know Your Curling
These key terms serve as a warm-up for your experience on the ice

Bonspiel – a curling tournament, typically held over a weekend, consisting of several games. (Teams often wear costumes).

House – the three rings on each team’s side towards which the game is played.

Button – the center of the house. Those stones closest to the button are scored.

End – similar to an inning in baseball. Each end consists of both team throwing 8 stones.

Hacks – the footholds from which a curler throws his/her stone.

Guard – a stone strategically placed in front of the house to protect a team’s stones

Sheet – the playing “field” for a curling match.

Skip – usually the strongest curler on a particular team. The skip has the final say as to where a stone is to be placed.

Weight – the amount of force made in throwing a stone

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News

2 star Blue Jackets players say goodbye, fans react

Mitch Hooper

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The fears all season finally came to fruition for the Columbus Blue Jackets as star winger Artemi Panarin and star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky both signed to new teams on July 1, the first day of free agency in the NHL.

Panarin will be suiting up for the New York Rangers now as the highest paid winger in the league, reports ESPN. Bobrovsky took his talents to the Florida Panthers on a seven year contract, reports NHL.com. Additionally, center Matt Duchene signed with the Nashville Predators.

After the best playoff run in franchise history, both Panarin, affectionately known as The Bread Man, and Bobrovsky, Bob for short, took to social media to thank Columbus one last time before heading to their new squads.

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Bob was the first of the day to announce his move.

“I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what.”

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Dear CBJ fans I have decided to move on. It was very fun road. We have done lots of good things for my time in CBJ and wish this team and city nothing but the Best! Yes we didn’t reach our goal but we became a really good competitive team. I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what. I want to say thank to my teammates. I wouldn’t achieve anything without you guys. It’s been a pleasure to work and compete with you shoulder to shoulder. I want to say thank you to entire Blue Jackets organization, all coaches I worked with and everyone from the stuff. Columbus will stay in my heart forever. Дорогие фанаты CBJ. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Это было интересное путешествие. Мы сделали много хороших вещей и я желаю Коламбусу дальнейшего развития и успехов. Да мы не добились главного, но мы стали сильной боеспособной командой. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Каждый из нас пишет свою историю и сегодня это мое решение. От всего сердца я хочу поблагодарить вас за вашу поддержку и любовь за все время моего пребывания в CBJ. Я хочу поблагодарить город Коламбус за радушный приём. Я хочу поблагодарить своих партеров по команде. Без вас я ничего бы не добился. Для меня было большим удовольствием выходить на игры и бороться за победы плечом к плечу с вами. Хочу поблагодарить весь клуб Blue jackets, тренерский штаб и весь обслуживающий персонал. Коламбус навсегда останется жить в моем сердце.

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Shortly after, Panarin announced his decision, too.

“I was very happy to play for Columbus. I hope you won’t be too mad at me😉 You live only once.”

And as always, fans had opinions. Some chose to focus on the good times we had. And, boy, were those times good.

Others weren’t as gentle. It’s all apart of the healing process, Columbus. We’ll get through this together. That being said, it seems like there’s different emotions for Panarin’s departure compared to Bob’s.

Example for Panarin:

Compared to Bob:

But in reality, this pretty much sums up all of yesterday for Jackets fans.

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Opinion

OP: Columbus is better than Boston, change my mind

Mitch Hooper

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I’m no hockey expert, but then again, I’m not ignorant to the sport. I’m aware of what boarding is, I know when an icing call should be made, and I can see a high stick from a mile away. C’mon, give me some credit, I’m a mid-20s-year-old boy who owns an X-Box—I’ve played NHL a time or two. I say all that to say this: Columbus is so much better than Boston.

Don’t misconstrue my vast hockey knowledge with my bold statement. I’m not saying Columbus is better than Boston in the sense of athletes on the ice (although my 2013 franchise mode on NHL says Columbus is the best damn hockey team six years running), I’m saying our city is better. Our fans are better. Our beer is better. Have you ever actually enjoyed a Sam Adams lager? Hell no.

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I understand I can’t make these claims without backing them up, so I did some unbiased research and my results were incredible. If you aren’t sitting down, you might want to now.

And as if that database of information wasn’t persuasive enough, here’s an entire press conference of unbiased sports experts carefully explaining their case.

It’s compelling, I know.

The facts go even deeper. Have you ever seen a Bostonian on the moon? Or orbit the planet? Point one for John Glenn and Columbus. Neil Armstrong isn’t from Columbus, but he’s a tried and true Ohioan and that counts in our books. Half point to Columbus? We’ll take it. All the numbers are adding up and it’s clear as day: Columbus is better than Boston.

The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Boston. The game will be aired on NBCS.

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Sports

Twitter Reacts: CBJ sweep Lightning in historic win

Mike Thomas

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Last night, the Columbus Bluejackets finished their perfect sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning with an emphatic game four win in Nationwide arena. It was without question the single biggest win in franchise history, sending the Jackets to the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever. But of course, you already knew that.

For your consideration (and to soothe your post-celebration hangover/exhaustion) here’s a roundup of some of the spiciest memes and reactions to the Jackets big win!

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