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Ron Rivera itches his curling bug

Posted Feb 24, 2018

A few hours before the American men's curling team won its first ever Olympic gold medal, Carolina's head coach took the ice in Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE – It was 30-some degrees inside the Charlotte Curling Association yet beads of sweat formed on Ron Rivera’s forehead.

Joke about curling if you like, but as the Panthers head coach found out Friday, it’s more than shuffleboard on ice. 

“I'll tell you what, I've got a tremendous amount of respect for these athletes, and I do mean athletes,” a worn-out Rivera said after an hour-long ‘Learn to Curl’ session.

“When you come out here and come on to the ice, you realize you've got to use your body – your entire body. Whether you're the one shooting the stone or you're the one sweeping the ice, it's very difficult.” 

Born in Scotland during the 16th century, curling has only been an official sport in the Winter Olympics since 1998.

I see you snickering at the word ‘sport.’ 

Sure, it’s not nearly as taxing as the game Rivera won a Super Bowl ring playing, but curling requires more than just skill. Rivera’s thighs, in particular, were burning after he rotated through a couple of rounds of shooting and sweeping the 42-pound stone. 

“I’d love to have the (players) work out doing this,” he said while trying to catch his breath. 

So how did Rivera do in his on-ice debut? 

“He put all he had into the sweeping,” said Steve McKee, president of Charlotte Curling. “Everybody struggles with delivery. 

“If we gave him a grade, a score, I'd say 89.”

So Rivera probably won’t be headed to Beijing in 2022 to help U.S. Curling defend the surprise gold medal it won in South Korea early Saturday morning. But at least he stayed on the ground to get this bug out of his system. 

“I've been inspired watching the Olympics. The one that really got me fired up about these Olympics is Chloe Kim, the snowboarder,” Rivera said. “That might be my next adventure – go out there and see if I can snowboard.

“But on a bunny hill.”