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COLUMN: Seniors — let’s get active on the ice (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 11/27/22

Let’s get indoors and warm up while we work up a sweat on the ice. How, oh, pray tell? By curling. No, not your hair — I am talking about the sport of curling.

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COLUMN: Seniors — let’s get active on the ice (VIDEO)


Let’s get indoors and warm up while we work up a sweat on the ice.

How, oh, pray tell?

By curling. No, not your hair — I am talking about the sport of curling. This Scottish sport is sometimes referred to as chess on ice. It will get you up and out to a curling facility. It is an activity that you and your partner, son or daughter, or a close friend can do together and practice together.

You will need at least six others to play an actual game, though, as a game is a competition between two teams of four players each. The skip is the fourth person on each team who tells their teammates where to send the stone down the ice when it is their turn to “deliver” the stones.

There are rules, so yes, your brain will be working as well as your body. Speaking of working the body, the squat position for releasing the rocks (or stones, as they’re called) is the delivery position. The delivery position is a challenging one for me. If you are right-handed, you drop down into a lunge during delivery by bending your left leg and sliding the left foot in front of your right leg, which is extended out behind you.

Don’t be so quick to say, “This activity is not for me!” I have a full left knee replacement without any ACL or PCL, so squatting into the delivery position is tough. But this activity takes into consideration individuals with lower back, knee, and leg challenges. Those individuals can walk the stone out of the hack, or starting position, during the delivery by pushing it with a control stick while standing upright. That means you and I can still do this activity.

Check out this video:

Now the stones weigh 44 pounds each, so don’t be picking them up. They are designed to slide on a 6-inch-diameter circle on their underside, and as you release them, you hold their handle at a 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock position so they will curl to the left or the right, hence the name curling.

You slide them down a 150-foot sheet of ice to a target that is 12 feet in diameter with a bullseye in the center called the button. The target is called the house, and the stones that are closest to the button in the house are going to get points. I told you there were rules, and yes, there were some terms to learn, but after playing a game or two, it all begins to make sense.

There are slip-on rubber covers for your sneakers, which make it possible to walk safely on the ice. The ice has a little roughness to it, which helps the stones curl through friction. If you have seen my PSA on curling or a video on the TV or internet, then you also saw team members with brooms brushing the ice in front of the stone. They are called sweepers, and they can actually increase the distance the stone slides by up to 10 feet, so they really help your stone get to the house. The sweepers have to be careful, because if they touch the stone as they brush in front of it, the stone is now burned and out of play.

There is an important aspect of curling that exists in many activities, but it is quite pronounced and universally considered a major part of this activity. It’s the camaraderie before and after the game. Yes, it’s as important as the game itself.

You arrive early to talk and interact, and you should plan to stay after to talk about your game and experiences while eating and drinking something. Your drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic, but some tell me if it is, it can make your recall and stories of the game more exciting.

Lastly, remember to dress warmly as you are going to be on ice for a few hours. I personally prefer being a little too warm rather than chilled, which means both me and my wife dress with extra layers as well as wearing hats and gloves. This activity tends to be seasonal in most parts of the country, so once it’s fall, look for a curling location in your area and get active. For more activity suggestions, go to

Keep in Mind: “There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Clifford Crandall Jr. is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.


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