Iced Out

The Denver Curling Club searches for respect after five years without a home.

Kirsten Finch would be the first to agree. When she was in eighth grade, she traveled with her mother to the national championships in St. Paul and watched her win. The next year, when Pam made the world finals, Kirsten told herself, "This is what I want to do." And with curling, she could.

"I had a greater opportunity to go farther with curling than I did with the hundreds of thousands of other girls who play soccer," she says. Two weeks ago, Kirsten and her teammates won a bronze medal at the world championships in Germany. She is planning to earn a spot on the 2006 Olympic team. "Unlike other sports, in curling you can get better as you get older, because a lot of the game is strategy that you only learn over time," she says.

But no one is learning anything in Denver. Without a place to play, clubmembers for the past several years have had to make do visiting the many curling Web sites, chatting about curling by e-mail and attending the club's annual meeting (November) and picnic (June -- maybe).

Caught between a rock and a hard place: Doug Deleff's curling club is on ice.
Jonathan Castner
Caught between a rock and a hard place: Doug Deleff's curling club is on ice.

The involuntary hiatus has taken its toll. The Denver Curling Club is withering toward extinction. When it played at the Commerce City facility, the organization had about 125 active dues-paying members. Now there are anywhere from 25 to forty. And the future is bleak: Most of the remaining members are older or middle-aged. (About 50 percent are Canadian "or living next door to a Canadian," Deleff says.)

Recently, Deleff began drafting desperate letters to Parker, Castle Rock and other communities farther from Denver, asking for suggestions as to where a curling sheet could be erected. "We need to get something going sooner rather than later," he says. "We don't have anything to offer members now."

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