Feb 2, 2022 - News

Curl Austin brings unlikely sport to Central Texas

Photo courtesy: Darin Henley/Curl Austin

Darin Henley swears he fell into curling like any other Texan: Obsessing over the sport during the Winter Olympics.

Flashback: "I was born in Texas," Henley said. "I had never heard of curling."

But by 2010, Henley was waking up at 4am just to catch curling on TV during the Winter Games.

  • And he's since found a community in Austin that obsesses — just as much as he does — about pushing a 45-pound rock down the ice while others sweep back and forth to get it in the right place.

Henley is the general manager of Curl Austin, an ice facility that serves only curlers. It's also home to the Lone Star Curling Club, which has been active since 2004 and manages the leagues at Curl Austin.

  • "It's pretty quirky," Henley said. "Because it's not something everybody does, I think there's some kind of appeal to do this weird thing on ice in Texas."
  • The sport is accessible to people of all ages and athletic abilities, Henley added. Curl Austin is home to about 100 curlers, a number that has continued to grow since the facility opened in September 2021.

The big picture: The Winter Olympics tend to kick off a curling frenzy, Henley said. The Lone Star Curling Club sees a spike in interest among Austinites and will add beginner leagues to meet the demand.

  • Olympic curling starts Wednesday, two days ahead of the opening ceremony, when Americans Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys compete in mixed doubles curling.
  • Curl Austin will host watch parties at its site through February.

Newbies can sign up for a learn-to-curl class.

Pro tip: Stick around after a game for broomstacking, "a fancy word for sitting down with your opponents and drinking," Henley said. Winner buys the first round.


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