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Special Report: Curling In The Carolinas

South of the Mason-Dixon line, it once seemed impossible to find the sport of curling.

In the upstate, many used to think it'd be a cold day in Hell, Wisconsin before they ever play again.

But you can find, it if you know where to look. With the Winter Olympics gearing up, the fascination with the sport is expected to snowball.

At the Pavilion Recreation Complex, Anne Wiggins of Hendersonville, breaks the geography barrier.

"We're curling... In the south!, Ha ha!!" she exclaims.

In many cases, the club rekindles an old flame. Anne fell in love with the game, sort of, back in the 70's.

"I'm looking at this thing that my then husband and his friends were doing and I said this is crazy, I don't understand it, I could care less," she recalls.

Now, she couldn't care more.  

The Palmetto Club started in 2010. They don't have a dedicated facility, but they make due.

"And it's hit or miss here. And the surface of the ice isn't even level here, so we end up with some pretty wacky shots," she says.

While watching the Olympics, most are grasping for the basics.

Four person teams compete, throwing a 42-pound granite stone toward the bulls-eye. That's called the "house." The center, or the button, is what they're shooting for.

"The most number of your colored stones closest to that button, you get to count that many," Wiggins explains.

But to get to the house, there's a frenzy.

"Sweeping like crazy to get it to where that skip wants it. And you will hear yelling," she warns.

The skip is like a quarterback, calling the shots.

"The skip is the one who directs the game," Anne tells us. "They're the master of the strategy. They have to learn to read the ice."

It's like reading a putting green.
  
"When you wanna make a shot, you don't aim for where you end up," Wiggins tells us. "You have to figure out how to get there."

Anne didn't exactly aim for competitive curling. In world competition back in 2004, her Senior US Curling team won Bronze.

"I didn't find out I was a competitive person, until I found curling," she says. "And man, then watch out!"

And a stones throw away, you'll find the sport associated with places far up north. Sure, sometimes they fall. But mostly, they just fall in love, all over again.  

"You can have curlers in their 80's," Anne says. "It's a game for life."

 



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