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Omaha hosts Olympic curling trials for Beijing 2022

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 11:08 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Olympic curling trials are set to begin here in Omaha at Baxter Arena on Friday.

Twelve teams will be competing for a chance at fulfilling their Olympic dreams as Friday night marks the opening ceremonies.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, it takes a lot more focus and strategy than you think.

“You’ve got the hack,” says Nic Ridder, the President of the Aksarben Curling Club. “This is kind of the starting block where the curlers push out of when they slide out.”

Although it’s easier said than done, this is one Olympic sport that everyone can do.

“It’s an inclusive game, it’s adaptable,” says Ridder. “If you can’t get out into a lunge position we have alternative ways for throwing the rock.”

The sliding ‘rock’ is 44 pounds of solid granite, all it needs is a curler to help guide it to the button.

“We’re gonna have half-hour lessons all week for people who want to come down, throw some stones, and slide around the ice,” says Ridder. “It’s gonna be a good time.”

Lesson-goers can even pair their Olympic trial experience with an instructor from Team USA itself. It’s a bonus for families and an overall event that even makes District 1 Council Member Pete Festersen proud.

“It’s a great thing for the city of Omaha,” says Festersen. “We’ve become an amateur sports haven between the swim trials and the College World Series.”

Little known fact - Festersen actually is a curler. He started at age five and worked his way up to a national team. Festersen says he’s looking forward to seeing one of the current gold medalists - someone he competed against.

“When he won the gold medal, he had one of the biggest comebacks in sports history,” says Festersen. “It was actually really exciting to see and I know Omaha will get behind their teams.”

The road to Beijing in 2022 starts here at Baxter as nearly 50,000 people are expected to fill arena seats, putting Omaha back in the spotlight for yet another world-class event.

Tickets are currently for sale on Baxter Arena’s website. The event runs from Nov. 12 to Nov. 21.

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