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Finding Minnesota: Curling Taking Off In Blaine

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) – It’s a winter sport that’s been around more than 500 years, played by gliding a heavy stone down a sheet of ice.

And now folks across the Twin Cities are being invited to try their hands at curling at the metro area’s newest club — Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine.

And with patient instruction from a former Olympian, they’re finding out it’s not only fun, but quite challenging.

With brave anticipation, a roomful of eager athletes crowd around one of the best.

“I was fortunate enough to participate in the Olympics,” said John Benton.

John Benton’s career has come full circle. From representing the United States at the Vancouver games, he’s now teaching his sport in Blaine.

“So we’re very happy to have a brand new six-sheet facility here for you,”

Call it, Curling 101 at the sparkling new Four Seasons Curling Club at Fogarty Arena.

For years, Dawn and Scott Franzen have been fascinated by curling on TV. So when Blaine’s new rink was built, they wanted to give it a try.

“We thought it’s something non-athletes could do, but found out it’s not as easy as it looks,” Scott Frazen said.

That’s an understatement. John Benton’s years of practice make his release appear so fluid, so flawless.

The trick is to use the body’s momentum to push a 42-pound stone down the textured ice.

That’s where the brooms come into play.

“We sweep the ice to warm it slightly in front of the stone,” Benton said.

If everyone’s done their jobs, the stone comes to rest in the “house,” scoring the team a point.

“I don’t know how this happened or why, but it is a Scottish sport, so there was probably whiskey involved at some point,” Benton said.

More than 320 have already joined the club’s instructional and recreational leagues.

“When you’re passionate about something like I am about curling, when you get to share and see people have success with it, especially right away, it’s heartwarming,” Benton said.

With a little patience, and a whole lot of practice, who knows when the next Olympian takes the ice?

“When 2014 comes around and the Olympics happens again, we’ll have lines of people out the door to come and try curling,” Benton said.

The Four Seasons Club will be open year round, and expects to get very busy by next fall.

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