I saw that the Curling Club of Jacksonville members were working out?
on the ice recently, and the news story indicated that an Olympic win in the sport?
has led to interest being at an all-time high. So there are literally hundreds of Americans interested in curling. But being from Wisconsin, I know a thing or two about ice-related activities, and I kind of wonder why curling would be taking off nationwide when there are several other ways to have fun on or with the ice.
Curling is kind of a version of shuffleboard or lawn bowling created for winter months in cold countries/states. People in Jacksonville never have to worry about coming up with something to do on the ice. We've got all kinds of ponds, and lakes but I assume they have not been frozen since the last ice age. Not the movie, the real thing, like 15,000 years ago.
Assuming that more people are interested in curling than ever before, there must be hundreds of people nationwide doing it. That's cool and all, but people from Jacksonville probably don't understand that ice is really made for other, more interesting endeavors.
Testing the ice is an age-old activity on Wisconsin lakes and ponds. It takes a steady foot, as you walk gingerly across the ice, trying to determine if it's strong enough to hold your weight. If one foot goes through, you lose, and you have to go back into the cabin to warm up. If your whole body goes in, your friend should slide a boat over to you. When you really want a challenge, you can test the ice on a river.
Ice fishing is another activity that is loved by people in northern climates. Once the ice is strong enough, you drag a little shack or tent onto the ice, drill a hole, and then go fishing. It involves something called a "tip-up" as well, but I'm no angler, so I'm not all that clear on equipment. Apparently, it's a great way to get away from your wife, since no woman in her right mind wants to freeze in a tiny shack on the ice. Beer can be kept cold outside the tiny building, and I believe a propane heater is often used on the inside. Sure, there's a chance you'll melt all the ice if you fall asleep with the heater on, but that rarely happens.
People on snowmobiles also enjoy speeding across half-frozen lakes. A snowmobile is like a motorcycle made to go on the snow It's natural enemies include barbed wire fencing, trees, alcohol, and lightly-frozen water. If you think it's insane to travel at 100 mph on snow and ice, you are correct.
Some people like to go ice skating on lakes and ponds, but it really foes get cold in a hurry on a larger lake, and the water doesn't really freeze as uniformly as one might think. There are no zambonis on these lakes, so once the ice gets torn up, it kind of stays that way. I've never seen an actual game of ice hockey on a pond or lake in Wisconsin. That's probably something people do more in Minnesota and Canada.
When the ice is a little more solid, it's time to drive your pickup on the frozen water. Nothing makes you feel more like a man than driving your 5,000 pound vehicle on water. Doing so gives you the ability to drag an even bigger shack even further onto a lake. And when you run out of beer, you can just drive to the liquor store. Sure, several trucks fall through the ice each year, but that's all part of the challenge.
Another pastime that occurs on or near frozen bodies of water is playing cribbage. It's a confusing card game with a board and pegs. There are some drinking rules built into the game, but every card game is a drinking game in Wisconsin. The problem with drinking alcohol while playing cribbage is that the game itself involves simple math, and that math gets harder and harder as the night goes on. By the end of the third game, it's like you're playing some kind of calculus game with Pythagoras.
People also create their own ice up North. Many communities have some kind of ice sculpting competition. Probably like sand sculpting here, except cold. That's kind of the point, though. Everything is cold outside in the winter months back in Wisconsin, so you figure out something to do. It's just that no one I ever knew seemed to want to go curling, and I probably would have turned them down, anyhow.
It seems that most ice-related activities have a lot to do with drinking and unreasonable risk. Curling doesn't generally involve either of these, so it's not terribly enticing to most ice adventure-seekers. That said, you can do it on the ice in Jacksonville, unlike some of the other activities mentioned above. If you're from somewhere north of here and miss the ice enough, you might take up curling. I won't be doing so myself, but I also won't be ice fishing or flying around at 100 mph on snow.