First Posted: 3/11/2012
Alison Piatt is an avid curler.
Not the hair-twirling kind.
She’s more interested in the Olympic sport of curling – a game where players hurl stones across sheets of ice towards a targeted area.
It’s like a slippery version of shuffleboard.
Piatt, of Pikes Creek, is so dedicated to the sport, she even volunteered (“I had to pay to volunteer,” she said) to officiate at the 2012 USA Curling National Championships at the IceWorks Skating Complex in Aston, Pa.
It was the first time the sport had been held on the east coast in recent years. Previous events have been held in Fargo, N.D.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Broomfield, Colo.; and Hibbing, Minn.
Because of the closeness of the event, Piatt had planned to volunteer in any capacity she could until she learned of the officiating courses in January.
“It was a great opportunity for me to learn the rules and learn more about the sport,” said Piatt, who runs the Anthracite Curling Club in Wilkes-Barre and the Misericordia Curling Club.
She completed two classes in one day in Philadelphia and had to record hours of service on the ice before she could be certified as an officiator.
Little did she know her practical experience would come from the event in which curlers from across the country face off to qualify for the world competition, to be held in Switzerland in March, and the 2014 Olympics.
Piatt manned a clock during each 73-minute draw, or game. The clock acts as a record for officials in the event players commit an error and a draw needs to be repeated.
“Though I was intensely focused on the clock because you don’t want to mess it up, it was great to watch this really high level of excellent curling,” she said.
Piatt travels often to play her favorite sport – most recently she traveled to Rhode Island to visit a fellow curler and participate in a tournament. For nationals, it was a no-brainer for her to get involved.
“I enjoy officiating,” she said. “It’s another way to be involved in the sport I’m so passionate about.”
She said it was also great to see regional curlers do well at the event – players on the men’s team from Ardsley, Pa. and Plainfield, N.J. had qualified for the world championships.
“It’s exciting to see that from a person who’s from a small area and has a small curling club that locals will compete at the world competition,” she said.
Piatt said it was a different kind of experience – she’s usually comfortable in an ice rink, but this time she had the chills.
“I live in northeastern Pa. and I like to curl, so I’m use to the cold,” she said. “But it was so cold – like two pairs of socks and two jackets cold.”
Piatt plans to continue officiating when she can because it will help her learn more about the game she loves.
“It’s both helpful to me and to my club here and it will only make me a better curler,” she said.