Curling: the 'chess on ice' sport for all ages gaining popularit - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Curling: the 'chess on ice' sport for all ages gaining popularity across Montana

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SWX Montana hits the ice to share how the sport of curling is played, and why the 'shuffleboard, meets bowling and chess' competition on ice is gaining popularity. 

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The sport of curling is gaining popularity across Montana, with clubs in various cities including Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, and Havre. 

In the Magic City, Chris Belback leads the Billings Curlings Club, and welcomes all to try the sport. 

"Everybody can do it," Belback said, "kids, and we had somebody in their 80's playing."

Since being founded in 2011, the Billings Curling Club has grown to more than 40 members, men and women of all ages and from all walks of life enjoying the recreational activity.

"It's a lot like shuffleboard on ice, with a bowling atmosphere," Belback said, "and there is an ultimate plan...so there's a chess aspect when it comes to knowing where you're gonna put the stones and kind of how to play it based off of what your opponent does."

SWX Montana's Melinda Lee hit the ice to share more on how the sport is played. 

Belback said the competition on ice is between two, four-player teams trying to guide 'stones' into a target area.

Each turn begins with one player 'throwing,' or slide serving, one 44-pound stone (there are 16 total, 8 per team). 

Two teammates then chase the stone with a 'broom' stick and sweep a path on the ice to guide the stone towards a circular target zone.

Points are scored for stones resting closet to the center of the circle, and, like shuffleboard, you can bump the opponent stones out of the circle to lower their points earned.

"People would be surprised," Belback said, "sometimes people come out and are like 'holy cow, i'm really good at this.'"

The sport combines strength and strategy, and is an aerobic workout as well.

"Players put in about 2 miles each game," Belback said.

While Belback is happy to see the sport continue to gain popularity and most recently be included in the Big Sky State Games, he hopes to see even more people come out to Centennial Ice Arena in The Heights to see if curling is the hobby they didn't know they were missing.

"Don't be scared to come try it!"

The Billings Curling Club will offer the community an opportunity to learn curling on October 16th, beginning at  6 p.m. at the Centennial  Ice Arena. The event is free for those under 14 and $10 for other participants. 

More on the Billings Curling Club can be found on the team's website, billingscurlingclub.com, or on the team's Facebook page. 

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