OLYMPIC VIBES IN THE CHICAGO SOUTHLAND
By Carrie Steinweg published February 11, 2022
If you have been following the Winter Olympics in Beijing, you may have noticed a slow-moving sport called curling. It’s one in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice toward a target. It has elements of shuffleboard and bowling and players take turns sliding the heavy, polished granite stones on the curling sheet aiming for a circular target called the house. One player glides on the ice gently pushing the stone forward while a second player furiously brushes at the ice with a broom to help guide it into the desired position.
This winter sport isn’t one you have to just watch on television. You can try it out for yourself right here in the Chicago Southland. At The Office Sports Bar and Grill in Crestwood has two curling sheets on the patio that are open for customer use. Customers can play for free during the bar’s regular hours or register for a seven-week league at $50 for two players.
It’s a pretty easy sport to learn and newcomers shouldn’t be intimated. A list of rules and instructions can be found posted on the patio and if you have questions, there’s usually someone around that can answer them and give you a few tips. Liz Sutkus is a manager and is familiar with the game. “I actually run curling. I’ve been part of it since it started,” she said. "Whenever I see people out there, I give them a little schpiel. I’m the bartender working most days so I can help and answer questions.”
She said there are often curlers in the bar who she knows and when someone is there who is new to the sport, the experienced players are often willing to jump in and give an impromptu lesson to a novice.
The bar runs multiple league seasons each winter and Sutkus said it got to be popular during the pandemic as people looked for activities to do outdoors. “We had this huge patio space that wasn’t being used in the winter,” said Sutkus.
Owner Tim Newsome was thinking about what the patio could be used for in colder weather and he happened to notice a man wearing a t-shirt at a Chicago bar that had the bar’s name on it and the words “curling team.” He started a conversation and learned a little more. Then he started doing some research and knew it was something he wanted to offer for customers. He brought curling to At The Office Sports Bar and Grill three years ago. It’s been a popular activity and is drawing even more interest now as the Winter Olympics are being televised.
The sheets are similar to the ones you see on television used in the Olympic competitions, but the brooms aren’t used for play at the bar. Rollers on the bottom of the stones help glide it in the direction you push it toward.
To try out curling, you can walk in and play any time the bar is are open with the exception of Thursday nights when league play is happening, starting at 5 or 6 p.m., depending on the amount of teams. You can also call to reserve a lane. Games go to 21 points or last a half-hour.
A new league will begin on February 24 and you can call or stop in the bar to register.