Curling: My Experience with the Japanese National Team

This year, my mom’s work retreat took us to Karuizawa, Japan, a beautiful place only 1 hour away from the bustling city of Tokyo. This event had gathered 102 of my mom’s colleagues and their families, for a fun-filled weekend. We got to the Karuizawa station at around 11am on Saturday morning,  and spent the first two and a half hours shopping and getting a quick bite to eat for lunch. The Karuizawa Premium Outlet had rows and rows of stores, ranging from Old Navy, to Nike, to Gucci, and had crazy good deals. For lunch, we found a small Chinese-Japanese restaurant, Yuejihua, with the best Dan Dan Noodles I’ve ever had. After we all wolfed down our bowl of noodles, we were off to Karuizawa Ice Park to learn how to Curl with the Japanese National Team. All 102 of us (ranging from 4 to 65 years old) filed into the 8-laned ice rink with our curling shoes, long pants, sweatshirts, gloves and hats on. 4 of the Japanese National Curlers were introduced, as well as a number of other instructors. We were divided up into groups of 6, and began our ‘lessons’. The first step was learning how to fall, both forwards and backwards. The ice wasn’t as slippery as it had seemed, and the grips on the bottom of our shoes made it easy to walk. After learning how to fall, we took off the grip from one of our shoes, and learned how to push off from the side in a bent-down position. This would be the technique used to glide off the beginning of the lane and slide the stone down the ice. Once we learned how to push-off, we were introduced to the very exciting curling stone. Weighing 20kg, these stones have handles that allow you to grip on well, but also release. We got used to the feeling of the stone against the ice, and were soon pushing off and pushing the stone. Once we were all settled on the ice and ready to go, it was game on! We played 3 full rounds (a normal game is played with 10 rounds) against 3 different teams within the large group. Although my team of 6 people lost 3/3 games, it was one of the most interesting and fun games I’ve ever played. Meeting the Japanese national team was incredibly fun, but overall, curling is a 10/10 would recommend activity!

Outside the Karuizawa Ice Park
Outside the Karuizawa Ice Park
Me with four of the Japanese National Curlers!
Me with four of the Japanese National Curlers!
My sister and i with the 20kg curling stones
My sister and i with the 20kg curling stones

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