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Local curling club hopes interest will heat up

Mike Green was watching the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 when a curling segment was being televised. It jogged a memory of his youth in Minnesota.

"I tried doing it 30 years ago," Green said. "I decided I didn't want to play baseball anymore, so after I saw curling on television, I thought I might try that again."

For Green and nearly everybody in the metropolitan area with an interest in curling, that meant going to the venerable Ardsley Curling Club in Westchester County, where there is a longstanding three-sheet curling arena.

There are no curling arenas on Long Island, but there is a curling club. Green and a few friends organized the Long Island Curling Club in 2008, were able to rent some ice at Long Beach Arena and were able to pursue their curious sport, which seems a combination of bocci, croquet, bowling and chess.

The deal with Long Beach Arena evaporated when the management changed, but Green and a few devoted others still trudge to Ardsley and hope to once again find ice time at Long Beach this year. The Vancouver Olympics might help.

"There was interest generated with the 2006 Olympics," said Green, of Bellerose, Queens. "It's an intellectually athletic sport. There is a lot of strategy involved. And it takes a long time to get the throws correct. I've been working on my release for years."

After organizing the Long Island Club, Green was able to obtain on loan two sets of curling stones (16 per set) from the United States Curling Association. The 42-pound stones can run up to $10,000 per set.

Green is hoping that more people will become interested through the Vancouver games, check out the club's Web site (licurling.org), attend an exhibition in Greenport as part of the winter festival at Mitchell Park on Saturday, and attend the club's open house at Long Beach Arena on March 20. The goal is to get enough members to be able to afford ice at the arena this spring at the offseason rates.

"I was watching the curling at the 2006 Olympics and loved it," said the club's de facto secretary Barbara Hunter of Long Beach. "You don't have to be a real athlete to do this, but you do get a workout running down the ice sweeping. It was a couple of weeks before throwing the stone without falling down."

For Justin Mossey of Copiague, curling is one of those way-out sports, but he found it was also, in a sense, part of his genes. "A friend said let's try this curling thing," Mossey said. "I guess we were tired of the bar scene. So we went to Long Beach and really liked it right off the bat. There's a lot of finesse, like a chess match and you have to think several shots ahead."

Quite a bit later, he told his father, Bill, that he was trying this curling thing, only to find out that his father had curled, and his grandfather had curled.

Green has a generational thing going, too. His 13-year-old son Matthew is curling, too.

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