February 20, 2014
Anyone who has tuned into this year’s Winter Olympics has likely had their curiosity piqued by the curling competitions at Sochi. The sport’s esoteric gameplay and rules might make it seem as distant as the Russian port city, but in fact, curling has a strong presence here on the Hill.
The Hamilton College curling team, which competes from October to March and practices at the Utica Curling Club, currently sports 20 members under the leadership of team captain Meghan Doherty ’14 and president Trevor Howe ’14. The Hamilton 1 team, composed of Doherty, Josh DeVinney ’15, Jake Davidson ’15 and skip Tara Huggins ’14, is currently ranked 16th in the USA College Curling Merit Point Standings. Consequently, the four-man squad will be competing in the US College Curling Nationals from March 14-16 in Blaine, Minn.
Hamilton tuned up for nationals over the past weekend with a rare home bonspiel. The top team defeated Rochester Polytechnic Institute (RPI) by a 6-4 tally on Friday night, before falling to Colgate (ranked first nationally) and Boston University (BU) on Saturday.
Despite the loss, Huggins had a particularly memorable throw during the first end of the Colgate loss. By knocking two of the opposing stones out of the target area, Huggins scored three points for her side on a particularly difficult “double take-out.”
Even more encouraging were the performances of Hamilton’s less experienced curlers. The Hamilton 2 team, composed of Howe, Bethany Campbell ’14, Mali Barker ’17 and Jessica Weston ’17, defeated RPI 8-7, winning in an extra end, before losing to BU. In addition, a combined Hamilton/Binghamton team, in which Nicole Saitta ’16 and Linnea Sahlberg ’17 represented Hamilton, won the C-event against BU. Finally, Andrew Fletcher ’17 and Jean Chen ’17 subbed in on two Bowling Green teams, which were two members short.
“Nicole stepped up and did a really good job playing vice skip even though she just learned to curl this year,” said Doherty. “I’m also happy that four other members were able to participate in a bonspiel even though they weren’t directly representing Hamilton. We have a lot of first-years, and last weekend was a good experience with lots of good wins and really close losses.”
Indeed, the UCC bonspiel represented the first opportunity for most of the curlers to compete in a formal competition. Though the top two teams competed in a BU-hosted bonspiel at the Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, MA, only one team went to the December RPI bonspiel in Schenectady, NY.
Now, the Hamilton 1 team looks to end their season on a high note in an event they have been preparing for all season. Doherty noted that the four members of the Hamilton 1 team have been practicing together since December in the hopes of forging the chemistry necessary to compete at nationals. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us to play against some Midwest teams that we don’t normally get a chance to face,” said Doherty. “Curling is a huge sport there, whereas it’s only beginning to gain relevance here on the East Coast.”
She continued: “I’m really excited and I think the team will do well at nationals. I was really proud of our performance at the Utica bonspiel, and we’re looking forward to doing even better at nationals.”
The team has now fulfilled their preseason mission, proving that this seemingly confounding Olympic sport actually holds a promising foundation right here at home.