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Little curling fan dreams big

Youngsters like Logan are the sport's future

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Curling fanatic Logan Ede of Saskatchewan is all smiles Thursday while in the stands at Roar of the Rings.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Curling fanatic Logan Ede of Saskatchewan is all smiles Thursday while in the stands at Roar of the Rings. Photo Store

It's not easy covering a major curling event when you know absolutely nothing about the sport.

Seeking to end my ignorance, I jumped out of bed Thursday morning, climbed into the car and prepared to race down to the MTS Centre to get an early start soaking up the colour at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.

My curling quest got off to a rough start when, after backing the car out, the garage door refused to close, even after I hammered the button hundreds of times and spoke to it in a menacing tone.

So I left it open and drove all the way to the end of the driveway, which is where my car became hopelessly stuck in a huge drift of snow. Fortunately, my daughter and a passing Good Samaritan pushed the car to freedom while I bravely stomped on the gas.

Moments later, my daughter was frowning in the driver's side window, because saving me resulted in her missing her bus. Despite running late, I drove my daughter to work, moving at the speed of airport luggage as we dodged snowplows on the icy streets.

Which explains my dark mood when I finally staggered into the arena and discovered -- SURPRISE! -- there was not a (bad word) curler or a curling fan in sight. "Good morning," I chirped to a security guard. "Where is everyone?"

The guard grinned. "Good morning, Doug," he said. "The curling doesn't start until 1:30 p.m. today."

I glanced at my iPhone. It was 11 a.m. As my boss pointed out later, had I taken the standard journalistic precaution of reading my own newspaper, I would have known what time to show up.

Anyway, with time to kill, the guard and I discussed the state of modern curling and agreed I should spend the rest of the day tracking down something you rarely see at events like this, by which I mean a young person.

With that plan in mind, I bounded up to the concourse level, where I stumbled on four lonely fans, all in their 70s. We chatted for several minutes, lamenting the dearth of young curlers, then I wandered away to kill a couple of hours window-shopping in the mall.

The very instant I returned to the Olympic curling trials, a miracle occurred -- there in front of me was (and I will emphasize the importance of this moment by engaging my computer's caps lock feature) THE FUTURE OF CURLING!

For the record, the future of curling is an 11-year-old Saskatchewan boy who is the size of a Christmas elf and sports black spectacles, a huge grin and a crewcut.

It seems Logan Ede dragged his family here all the way from Kipling, Sask., insisting they attend our marquee event to feed his insatiable appetite for all things curling.

"He LOVES curling," his mom, Sandie Ede, sighed. "He wants to be a curler and be in the Brier. He's very passionate about it. He went to curling camp in the summer and was the youngest curler there. You're supposed to be 13 but they let him in at age 11."

In Logan's eyes, curling rules and hockey drools. "It's my favourite sport," he told me as a sea of much-older curling fans poured into the arena before the afternoon draw. "I like it a million times more than hockey.

"It's physical and there's thinking and strategy and planning. I like to hold the broom. I want to be a skip. I'm going to go to the Brier one day. Maybe the Olympics.

"My friends say, 'Why would you do that? Hockey is better,' and I say: 'No, it's NOT!' "

This pint-sized curling fanatic not only talks the talk; he walks the walk. He started throwing stones around the age of five and now, at 11, plays second on a team in his hometown -- a men's team. "It's my dad, my brother, my uncle and me," Logan explained.

Who's the best player? "Me," he snorted, then, after a moment's quiet reflection, added: "Or maybe my uncle."

Sandie said her son got hooked on the roaring game as a toddler. "After we'd curl, he'd just go down on the ice and throw rocks," she recalled. "In a small community, we can go to the rink whenever he wants."

Despite living in the land of Rider Pride, Logan's favourite curler is Alberta's famed Kevin Martin. "He's pretty much my hero," Logan gushed. "I just like the way he does lots of takeouts."

Logan and his mom agree not enough kids are being drawn to the game. "They should make it more popular and promote it more so people don't think hockey is the only sport in winter," the preteen pointed out.

With Logan in the mix, I'm thinking the future of curling is in safe hands. And, in about five more years, those hands will be old enough to drive.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2013 A2

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