Curling prepares for home bonspiel

After winning a national championship in its first season last year, Bowdoin’s club curling team is looking to repeat its early success. More than halfway done with its season, which ends in April, the team has its sole home competition this weekend.

Individually, the athletes have been practicing regularly, traveling an hour and a half to Belfast, Maine, every Sunday for ice time. Due to the long commute, the players curl individually whenever they have time. Some curl midweek in leagues, while others practice over school breaks against other programs, such as Harvard, Boston University, Colgate, and MIT.

The team is looking forward to its two biggest events of the season: the Maine Collegiate Championships and Easterns. Last year, the Polar Bears took first in the former bonspiel—the name for curling competitions—and are looking to repeat this weekend.

Despite the squad’s excitement about the upcoming events, there are some noteworthy changes to this year’s curling calendar. Instead of Nationals, the divisions will be split up into Eastern, Midwest and Central. Most curling events include D-I, D-II and D-III competitors, with both undergraduate and graduate competitors. Curling is unique because teams may be comprised of curlers from different schools, so players from MIT, Harvard, Bowdoin, and Unity College get to know one another and spend time together.

There is a lot more to curling than may meet the eye, according to captain Carl Spielvogel ’13.

For one, it’s all about stance. Curlers spend a significant portion of their time balancing on one foot as they brush the ice, in order for the stone to travel down the surface. Spielvogel said that loose clothing allows for optimal movement. In addition, players must memorize where on the ice the stone will curl the most depending on its weight, and how to use the ice to their advantage.

Spielvogel said he enjoys curling because “it is all centered around sportsmanship.” Before the match, players shake the hands of all their teammates and their opponents and say, “Good curling.”

The biggest challenge thus far has been an interest in curling, as the team currently consists of fewer than a dozen participants. There are several events that the team could have competed in, but the team has found it difficult to attend due to travel and expenses.

Originally posted on with photos