The Curling Association received 19 points from the Rice Lake College Spiel Dec. 5 to 7, with the two University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point teams entered taking the top spots and putting the association first in the nation.
The tournament had 13 teams participating from nine different schools including the UWSP, Carroll University, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, UW-Barron County, UW-Green Bay, University of Denver, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Wayne State, and Finlandia University.
The team went without a loss until right before nationals. Heading into the nationals, the team ranked fourth.
The team lost two games and was knocked out of the final section of the tournament.
“It was set up kind of weird,” said sophomore Kylie Abel. “There were four teams per bracket so we were out after two losses. We won our third game but that didn’t matter.”
The tournament will be held in Rochester, New York this year. Currently the team is ranked third with the points they have acquired.
“We can only send one team. We send the most devoted, and the most interested in the club,” Abel said. “The rankings change every weekend, but we have the expenses planned into our budget.”
Teams receive two points for every win and one point for every loss they attain throughout the season. This encourages play outside of regular bonspiels.
Throughout the year teams earn points toward nationals through March 16. After that it resets and points earned go toward the national tournament the following year.
A curling match consists of eight ends. In each end 16 rocks are thrown with all players on each team throwing two of them.
“Ends are sort of like innings in baseball,” Rueth said. “That’s the easiest way to think about it.”
The team with rocks closest to the middle of the circles scores more points.
“The circles are kind of like a target in archery,” Abel said. “Curling is sort of like chess on ice with a strategy.”
The four players are the lead, who throws first, the second, who looks to play more defensively, the third, who is generally a consistent scorer, and the skip, who scores consistently and calls the shots for the test of the team.
Curling ice is pebbled with droplets of water atop smooth ice. The bottoms of the rocks are concave and the bumpy ice allows for them to be thrown properly.
“If we played on hockey ice the rocks would go like five feet,” Rueth said. “We have to curl the rocks down the ice. That actually how curling got its name.”
Abel wants to improve her shooting skills this year.
“I want to be an asset every game that I play and make a difference,” Abel said.
One of the biggest things the club is looking to do is expand and broaden interest in the sport.
“Half of the goal is to encourage the sport of curling. It’s a lifelong sport,” Rueth said. “You can play it into your eighties or nineties. The sooner you start the longer you can play.”
There is a group of about ten people who have prior experience with curling who look to pass on their knowledge.
“We all graduate at some point, and we just want to expand to more people before we do,” Rueth said.
Rueth was one of the three students who started the club last fall. Evan Brauer and Ryan Kernosky also helped create the club.
The trio wanted curling available as an intramural sport, but when that fell through they created a university organization.
“The people that are a part of the club are incredibly involved,” Rueth said. “When we hosted the bonspiel here, there was a lot to do with preparation, cooking, and cleaning, and everyone was willing and helpful.”
Even with such a helpful group of people the club is looks for new members.
“We’re always looking for new, committed faces with a passion to learn,” Abel said. “Don’t hesitate just because we’re in the middle of the season and we don’t know you yet.”
The team practices Sunday nights from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Stevens Point Curling Club, located on the grounds of Stevens Point Country Club.
One of Abel’s favorite things about curling is the athleticism and intelligence involved. As a former soccer player and experienced curler, she enjoys the competition and intelligence needed to curl and encourages others.
“You have to have a good head on your shoulders,” Abel said. “It’s easy to get complacent with how you’re going to do against a team.”