Kalamazoo prepares to host USA Curling National Championships | mlive.com
Kalamazoo prepares to host USA Curling National Championships Updated January 31, 2019 at 3:48 PM ; Posted Gallery: USA Curling Nationals media day Comment By Winter Keefer | firstname.lastname@example.org KALAMAZOO, MI — For the third time in the last decade, the nation’s most important event in the sport of curling will be held in Kalamazoo. The week-long USA Curling National Championships runs Saturday, Feb. 9, through Saturday, Feb. 16, at Wings Event Center , 3600 Vanrick Drive. The tournament features the top 10 men’s and top eight women’s curling teams from across the country. The results will help determine Team USA for this year’s women’s and men’s World Championships, held in Denmark and Canada in March. Tickets are available online for a single day, for two days — either Saturday, Feb. 9, and Sunday, Feb. 10, or Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16 — as well as full-week passes giving access to the tournament for all eight days. Western Michigan University student Maya Willertz, 18, is the youngest member of Team Senneker, one of the eight women’s curling teams that made it to nationals this year. Her team’s first match-up is scheduled for noon Sunday, Feb. 10, against Team Roth, who represented the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. “That’s the game I’m looking forward to the most,” Willertz said during a media day event Monday, Jan. 28. “To get to play at this level at 18 is pretty cool.” Originally from Midland, Willertz started curling at age 11, got competitive in her teenage years and chose to attend Western Michigan University largely because of its curling club. Willertz said she competed at the Junior National Championship in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and is excited to continue growing in the sport. In addition to joining the WMU Curling Team, Willertz was invited to join a Team Senneker, a team of curlers made up of women from around the Midwest. Willertz is working toward a degree in behavioral psychology, but spends much of her time away from the classroom traveling and training with her team. “I have a great team,” she said. “I’m really excited to just spend the week them and just play our best game. It’s been a fun ride.” Another team Willertz looks forward to playing against is Team Sinclair, which has a match with her team set for Wednesday, Feb. 13. She said Jamie Sinclair coached her at a curling camp last summer and she looks forward to some friendly competition. In the world of curling, Willertz said, “everyone kind of knows everyone” and supports one another. “It’s such a strange sport, you kind of have to have a sense of community around it,” she said. “Most people don’t really know what it’s about so you kind of have to build a community to share your interest with people.” This year’s national championship is hosted through a partnership between Discover Kalamazoo , the Kalamazoo Curling Club , Wings Event Center and Greenleaf Hospitality Group , Discover Kalamazoo President and CEO Greg Ayers said. The national championship first came to Kalamazoo in 2010 and returned in 2015. Ayers said he is excited USAA Curling selected Kalamazoo once again to host the event. “We feel really strongly that once people have a first time in Kalamazoo, whether it be as a visitor or here for a competition, that we’ve got a lot better chance of getting them to come back,” Ayers said. “We really thought after the 2010 championship that it wasn’t a mater of if USA Curling would return, it was when they would return.” The championship is an opportunity to showcase a sport that has grown in the region over the past decade, he said.
Less than two weeks to go! Purchase your tickets and learn more about the 2019 USA Curling Nationals at curlingnationals.com. Posted by USA Curling Nationals on Monday, January 28, 2019 What is curling? If you’re not already a curling super fan, here’s how it works: Taking turns, two teams of four slide eight, 40-pound granite stones down a sheet of ice toward a target. Each team tries to get its stones closer to the center of the target than the other team. The team with the closest stone to the center of the target at the end of each round earns points. Many are familiar with curling from watching the Winter Olympics. The sheet of ice that stones slide across is speckled with small droplets of water in a technique called “pebbling.” While each stone is in motion, teammates help guide each shot by sweeping in front of the stone, which can add up to 10 feet of distance to the shot while also straightening the stone’s natural curling motion. Until the stone stops, onlookers will hear the team yelling “stop” or “go” to the sweepers to guide the shot up to two inches from the intended target, he said. “The yelling is the sort of ‘hypnotic’ element that draws people to watch curling who really don’t know much about it when it comes on TV,” Gleaton said. Curling is most popular in Canada and Sweden, said Marcus Gleaton, president of Kalamazoo Curling Club. But the sport has also has been growing in popularity in the U.S., Gleaton said. The Kalamazoo Curling Club, established in 2008, is one of eight that have formed in Great Lakes states in the last decade or so, he said. “We’re calling it the decade of growth,” Gleaton said.
Check out why sweeping is a critical part of curling! Learn about the USA Curling Nationals taking place this February at Wings Event Center by visiting https://curlingnationals.com/ Posted by USA Curling Nationals on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 View Comments