Curling finds a new, unlikely home in Oakland as the sport grows

Every four years during the Winter Olympics, curling is top of mind for many Americans. The sport is now hooking people in the Bay Area left and right. 

"I actually got into curling from my husband who got into it watching the '06 Olympics," said Kate Garfinkle, the President of the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club. 

Like most members, Garfinkle used to watch curling every four years when the Olympics would roll around, but now she spends just about all of her free time here on the ice. 

"This really spoke to me, I love the teamwork part of it and also the community is part of what kept me coming back," said Garfinkle. 

Curling is growing all across the country and in the Bay Area.

"We started in Oakland at the downtown ice center, and we grew and couldn't fit the space anymore," said Grafinkle. "We realized if we wanted ot get better and compete then we needed to create our own facility with world top ice and that's why we opened this."

The new curling-only facility opened in March and has already attracted top curling talent from across the globe.

"We have the skip for team India this is his home court," said Garfinkle.

A member of team Mexico also belongs to the club. Garfinkle says the club is now one of the youngest and most diversely populated clubs in North America. 

The club's goal is not just to attract top talent, rather to continue to diversify the sport and to make sure all feel welcome on the ice.

"We have markings in ice for wheelchair chair curling have stick curling if people can't lunge," said Garfinkle. "We really want to welcome all of our community members to our club and to do that we want everyone to feel welcome and supported.

That feeling is exactly what kept Yvonne Yip and her boyfriend coming back after deciding to drop in one afternoon.

"We just came in one day and never left," said Yip.

Yip says the sport is easy to learn but hard to master, that's part of what made her officially join the club when it opened. Since she’s joined, the club has grown significantly, doubling their number of members. 

"The Monday league is completely full when I first came in you could still get time to practice during league time," said Yip.