It’s not every day that an athlete gets to meet their sports idol, much less an Olympic gold medalist. But dozens enjoyed that rare opportunity last week when Olympic Curling Champion Tyler George paid a visit to Newark – his first to our state.
George was part of the five-member 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Curling Team that grabbed its first gold medal ever that year. That win generated tons of publicity and sparked a surge in interest in the curious winter sport, with many thinking, “Hey, I could do that!”
But as George will tell you, curling, which involves “throwing” and “sweeping” on an icy stage, is not as easy as it looks.
And that’s the reason he came to Delaware – to grow the sport by getting newcomers and seasoned hobbyists more excited about playing.
Now retired from competition and serving as an ambassador for USA Curling, George was invited by the Diamond State Curling Club (DSCC) to provide instruction to members and people just curious about the game.
DSCC is the first and only curling instruction and Olympic training center in the state. Since their life-altering experience last year, George and all of the members of the U.S. Olympic team have been making appearances at ice rinks across the country.
The Club’s August 18th collaboration with George allowed many local curling enthusiasts to learn first-hand some of the special techniques employed by the top curlers in the world. George held the position of vice skip on the U.S. Olympic team and has over 18 years of professional competitive experience.
“The best part about what we accomplished at the Olympics is that it gives us a platform by which to bring the sport to everyone else,” he told the group. “This is the first time since I’ve started playing that it seems like everyone else is starting to recognize what a great sport it is. The more and more people who come out and try the sport, the more people realize that we have this amazing community of people who back each other up and do everything they can to support each other.”
DSCC is a non-profit organization that offers instructional leagues to anyone over the age of 14, regardless of prior experience.
University of Delaware student Alaina Meadows took advantage of this opportunity, attending DSCC’s collaboration with Tyler George. “I never thought I would get a chance to meet an Olympic gold medalist,” explained Meadows. “Hearing Tyler George’s story and having him help each of us with our curling technique was a great experience.”
George originates from Duluth, Minnesota, where he got his curling start at the local Curling Club as a vice skip. He’s competed professionally for many years, earning his first bronze medal at the 2001 World Junior Championships as an alternate. George competed in his first Olympic Games last year at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.
“Hearing Tyler share about his Olympic Gold Medal game, team dynamics and training was entertaining and informative,” DSCC wrote to their Facebook wall. “Then to recreate Shuster’s five-point shot from the winning game was so much fun!” John Shuster, captain of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Curling Team, is considered the greatest curler in U.S. history.
George was equally excited for the opportunity to give back to the curling community. “I love the community aspect,” said George. “The game is a great game. It’s a lot of fun. But everything that comes along with it has brought so much to my life. The people you find around in curling clubs are the best people on the planet.”
He also gave a heartfelt thanks for “doing everything you’ve done for our sport. What you guys are doing to help build the sport here is every bit as important as what the rest of us are doing.”
The Diamond State Curling Club offers several events and leagues for curlers of any experience. If you’re interested in taking up curling, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org visit their website www.diamondstatecurling.org.