Jamaica delivers another ice surprise

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-08 09:31
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From left: Curling Jamaica's Ben Kong, Stephanie Chen and Cristiene Hall-Teravainen pose for a photo during a practice session at Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, on April 30. AP

Someday, maybe curling, too.

"They paved the way for Jamaica. It was huge what the bobsled team did," Hall-Teravainen said. "I don't think we're riding their coattails, but we're marching right behind them."

In all, Kong has found nine women and five men, 12 of them living in Canada and two in the United States. Most are dual citizens.

Three of the women have competitive experience; Hall-Teravainen is the most accomplished of them, having once competed in Canada's senior provincial championships. She figures to be the anchor of a Jamaican team that is hoping to compete in the World Mixed Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland, in October. Of the five men, only one has played competitively.

"Our men's team, while we have enough warm bodies, that team needs some developing," Kong admitted.

Andrew Walker, Curling Jamaica's secretary general and a recreational curler who once won the Monday night house league at his home club, said finding other Jamaican curlers was "a lightbulb moment" for him.

Now he sees a spark in other Jamaicans' eyes when they watch him curl.

"A young lady came up to me and said, 'You know, I wasn't going to come but then I saw you and I thought, "Hey, I can do that too,"'" he said. "It gives people the permission to go out and give it a try. They can see someone like themselves.

"Because it was never there in their old country, they don't seek it out. They'll seek out soccer and cricket and what have you, but curling is not on the radar," he added. "So this will hopefully put it more on the radar."

And he hopes WCF recognition will help get the word out.

"There are Jamaicans in every country on the planet. I'm quite sure out there in the Jamaican diaspora are curlers like myself-and better than myself," Walker said. "This is the first step to let them know that we're out here, and we want to hear from you."

For now, the dozen Canada-based Jamaicans have set up a home base at Unionville Curling Club, outside Toronto.

The club's debut competition was a friendly coed scrimmage against Hong Kong, China in April that was limited to three-person teams because of pandemic protocols; Hong Kong, China was leading 10-4 after four ends when everyone decided that keeping score wasn't the point.

Hall-Teravainen noted that it's not uncommon for even well-established curling programs to train abroad, where coaches and ice sheets are plentiful and the competition is robust.

"Even countries that have ice come here to train," she said. "Jamaica has a hockey team that plays out of Florida."

Kong said the goal is to build a program in which the curling is played "in Jamaica, by Jamaicans".

And if Disney comes calling with a movie deal? "I'm still thinking of what actor I want to play me," he said.

Agencies Via Xinhua

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