Countdown to the Olympics: Inside the world of curling

Each curling stone weighs about 42 pounds.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- This week we're continuing our countdown to the Olympics on Sunrise and there’s one unique that’s been around since the 16th century involving a broom and a stone.

WEAU’s Courtney Everett caught the sights and sounds of curling.

"Curling started when I was in 4th grade and ironically I'm a 4th grade teacher now,” said Mike Peplinski, Former Olympic Curler of the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

"The stone is 42 pounds,” explains Mike Hoepner, the Eau Claire Curling President.

Peplinski goes on to say, "As a 10-year-old there was a signup sheet that said come try curling and I was a sports fanatic."

"We take a pebble can, with hot water in it and put little bumps on the ice for the rock to ride over the top of. If we didn't have that pebble on there, the rock wouldn't move at all,” says Hoepner.

"As a 17 year old, I started putting the pieces together and they talked about curling becoming a full medal Olympic sport."

"The sweeping what it does is it can make the rock go straighter or it could make the rock go farther."

"We got to be a pretty good team and got to compete at the national level. We had won some state events and at the national level the first time we were there, we could compete nationally. We gelled and we played very well together and won the Olympics trials in 97 in December and became the 98 Olympic team. We took 4th place,” explains Peplinski.

He adds, "You're talking about national hockey players, you're talking about Michelle Kwan walking next to you and those moments are the ones I still remember.

"Curling is a sport where it look as fun as it looks on TV. It's similar to golf where it looks a lot easier than what it really is in real life,” says Hoepner.

"I wish I could get back to there, there's always that itch in you to be the best in your level. That was a nice chapter in my life,” explains Peplinski.

"Small group, big group, we'll get you out here and try it and you'll fall in love with the sport,” explained Hoepner.

The sport of curling is played between two teams that include four people. The object of the game is to get the stone to the center of the house, called a button. The team with the closest to the center will receive a point for each stone between the button and opposing sides nearest stone.

Meanwhile, Deb McCormick of Wisconsin will be competing in her 4th Olympics this year for curling.


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