Rick Patzke, COO of the USA Curling located in Wisconsin, is excited about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver, as well as the overall growth of curling at the grassroots level in the US. While folks in Canada have grown up around ice rinks for hockey and curling, the sport is slowing picking up steam in the US.
“The 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City really jump started curling awareness in this country. It was kind of a coming out party.” “Patzke stated. The US was successful in winning the bronze medal during those games and also creating a curiosity about the sport.
Since those games, USA Curling now has over 14,000 curlers and 145 clubs across the US in its 51st year. Those numbers should greatly improve with recent coverage by Monday Night Football and NFL Pro Bowler Vernon Davis taking up the sport and is an honorary Captain. There was also great coverage through the Colbert Report and upcoming Simpson’s episode (Feb. 14th) with the storyline around curling.
USA Curling has also partnered with Kodiak Technology Group and Monterey County AIDS Prevention on a program for HIV awareness.” It was an opportunity to promote education, safety and awareness through “Hurry Hard condoms”. That campaign promoted a buzz using the term commonly used by curlers.
As the Olympics draw near, it’s another opportunity to promote curling in the US and possibly earn another medal. When asked about expectations, Patzke felt the men may have a tougher climb and the women’s team could be in top 4, which would allow them to compete in the medal round.