Newly started Buffalo Curling Club is attracting UB's interest

New club at The Riverworks in downtown Buffalo reintroduces curling to UB students


Curling is back in Buffalo.

It’s been six years since the former Buffalo Curling Club closed its doors in 2009, but a new club is back at The Riverworks, the newly dual-rink entertainment complex in downtown Buffalo.

UB students were reintroduced to the sport at an event hosted by UBThisWinter, the department in charge of the three-week winter session offered by UB, on Jan. 23. The event brought 16 students along with various faculty and staff to Riverworks for a night of curling aimed at helping students adjust to the winter.

Curling is played with two teams sliding stones down the ice, aiming for the bulls-eye of a circle painted at the other end of the rink. The sweepers use their brooms to speed up the curling stone as it slides down the ice. The strategy is to knock opponents’ stones out of the circle, set up a blocker stone or to curl a stone around a blocker.

Each game requires the use of 16 44-pound granite stones; the game piece costs $300 to $400. The Buffalo Curling Club receives nearly all of its money through people coming out to curl, according to Danielle Buchbinder, a UB alumna and Buffalo Curling Club president.

The club itself has been around for less than a year and is run by volunteers. They operate weekly leagues, learn to curl nights and hold an annual curling tournament – a bonspiel – on March 7.

“Curling is a tremendously fun time,” said Thomas Slomka, a designer at the Center for Educational Innovation at UB who participated in the event. “The 16 [UB students] in my group had a fun time learning the game, practicing the basic movements and testing their learning by playing a quick match.”

Slomka has been a fan of curling since he was a kid. He began to curl at Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada when there was no option in Buffalo.

With the return of curling to the Queen City, Slomka and UB students and faculty now have an option closer to home.

The Buffalo Curling Club has no official affiliation with UB, but Buchbinder said she hopes more UB students try curling. She hopes some may eventually start a club, similar to the popular on-campus skiing club Schussmeisters.

“I’ve always been interested in curling ever since seeing during it the Winter Olympics,” said Zach Fehrman, a sophomore chemical engineering major. “Last year, a few of my friends talked about starting a curling club on campus but we were disappointed to learn that the closest club was in Rochester. It’s great to know we can now try out the sport for the first time in Buffalo.”

Matthew Blum, director of UB’s summer and winter enrollment, planned the curling event as well as most of UBThisWinter’s events. He placed an emphasis on winter-themed activities for students, such as free UB hockey games and a winter carnival.

Blum said by getting students and faculty to “embrace the winter” through events like curling, the winter becomes less of hindrance and more of an opportunity for fun.

“You can complain or you can curl,” he said. “It’s everyone’s winter here.”

Traditionally, curling has been played on frozen lakes. The Riverworks is an open-air ice rink with an overhead roof, giving curlers the effect of playing on a lake in the traditional sense while still protecting the rink from snow or rain. The open-air quality “harkens to a purer time in curling history” according to Slomka.

Riverworks isn’t the only option for prospective curlers. Although not a formalized club, the Canalside rink in Buffalo also offers open curling periodically with instructors.

While the Winter Olympics might still be two years away, there have never been more opportunities for UB students as well as Buffalo locals to enjoy the winter pastime of curling.