Young people from the region discover the passion for sport at Chaska Curling Center | Chaska Sports

Through the doors of the Chaska Curling Center, pass some of the best athletes in the sport. World champions. Olympic champions.

It has been the USA Curling National Training Center since 2019, providing high performance program participants with a place to train and host events throughout the season. The headquarters of the United States Curling Association is just down the street on the Viking Lakes business campus in Eagan.

Through these same doors pass some of the sport’s promising athletes. Young curlers who had their first experience of the sport five years ago in the same center. The young curlers who persevered, improved their game, pushed for more ice time, challenged these twice their age and are now potentially heading to the National Under-18 Championships.

That is if COVID allows the event to occur for the first time since 2019.

“People say it’s an easy sport,” said Brooke Giroux, a freshman at Chanhassen High School.

“They say it’s easy until they try it, and then they say it’s going to fall in their face,” said Will Podhradsky, eighth grade student at Chaska Middle School West. “Professional hair curlers make it so easy. But it’s not. They have been playing for years.

Giroux and his twin sister Allie were among the first juniors to try the sport at Chaska Curling Center.

“My dad first curled up when this place opened and a year later we started in the junior program. We’re both in tennis so this is our offseason, ”said Allie.

“He’s the one who put us in. Our parents told us we signed you up for curling. Try it out and see if you like it, ”Brooke said.

Chaska High School senior Christian Podhradsky wouldn’t say he was forced to play, but he certainly didn’t think it would be a bad idea. Christian and Will’s father, Matt, is a municipal administrator for the town of Chaska. One of the people responsible for bringing the project to Chaska.

Will was only eight or nine years old when he started curling.

“Really when the city did that there seemed to be a lot of interest, people were doing it, and that made me give it a try,” Will said.

Being linked with Olympic gold medalist John Landsteiner, Team Shuster first, only motivated the brothers even more.

“As twins we both love the same things, and it’s something that we both really enjoyed,” Brooke said.

“Sure, we had our little differences with our love of curling, but I agree we’re both addicted to curling now. It’s so much fun, ”Allie said.


When Chaska Curling Center chief ice maker Scott Belvitch came to St. Paul’s Curling Club, he and his wife, Joann, made starting a junior program a priority.

A program which from the start attracted a large group of interested players. Some at the local level, others at the regional level.

“Just like when the leagues were formed for adults, the kids woke up when we started a program for juniors. It’s one of the most successful in the state, ”Belvitch said.

In most years, the junior program has between 45 and 55 curlers. This year’s entry just ended with 47. This group of juniors starts at around eight and goes up to 18.

Belvitch said that when junior players started playing in Bonspiels, or tournaments, and started finding these competitive juices, the program took off. From there it only grew.

Clay Orvik, curling center and events coordinator, organizer of the junior program, said children can learn the sport in a day. The basics of throwing, sweeping.

“Children understand this very quickly. It may take them a few sessions before they really get it right, ”Orvik said.

“It’s not a hard game to learn,” Belvitch said.

“It’s a tough game to master,” Orvik added.

“Children are like sponges. They pick up so, so fast, ”Belvitch said.


As the Giroux and Podhradsky improved, their games came knowing their own strengths. Allie is good at take out. Brooke is good at protecting herself in front of or getting rocks into the house. But they’ve settled in knowing they’re the best at sweeping.

“We’re all pretty much top players. We sweep a lot. It’s kind of finding that happy medium of what you can do and what you can potentially do, ”Allie said.

So what is a good sweeper? In addition, of course, to strength and power.

“Willing to sweep until you turn blue,” Allie said.

Allie and Brooke recently played in a state tournament, placing second out of 32 teams. Their six games totaled about 18 hours of play. Yes, 18 hours of scanning.

“Don’t worry. We have our foam rollers and we’re still stretching,” Allie said.

“And energy drinks. We actually found a healthy one, ”Brooke said.

Will was part of the Harris team made up of captain Sydney Harris and leader Stuart Strack of the St. Paul Curling Club, and third Mason Guentzel of the Chaska Curling Center. The team has won tournaments in Rice Lake, Eau Claire and more recently in Madison, Wisconsin. They were champions at a local event in Chaska in July.

Belvitch said four wins in one year were “unheard of” for junior curlers. A sign that Team Harris is set to be the No.1 seed for the National Under-18s in March.

“Curling is a very small world. There are only a certain number of people, so you must be really lucky, ”said Will. Sydney Harris, the oldest member of the team, has been curling for 12 years, Will said.

“He’s the best curler for his age I’ve ever seen,” said Christian.


When asked if they knew about curling before the center opened, Christian summed up the answers perfectly.

“I remember playing it on Wii. That’s all I knew, ”he said.

It took hours and hours of practice, of dedication, to improve. As a junior, the group helped form the SubZero High School curling team, which offers letters to students who complete 150 hours per season.

Team members train twice a week and play Bonspiels most weekends. Most players also compete in leagues three nights a week.

“When (Will) started playing competitively, I got jealous and wanted to get back to it. I was asked to be a substitute and I loved it, and I’ve stuck with that ever since,” he said. said Christian, who plans to continue in the sport next year while attending Winona State University, and hopes to compete in the Under-21s.

Training at the national training center, local youth often have great access to great players to learn with, Allie said.

“We met a few people entering the club. We met Olympians, had conversations with them. It’s so cool to be able to ask them questions. Sometimes their coaches will come over and try to fix the little things that will give you an edge, ”said Brooke.

Could Podhradsky be Team Shuster’s next Landsteiner or Matt Hamilton? Could Brooke and Allie Giroux be the next Olympian sisters Tabitha and Tara Peterson? Or the next Anderson twins? Sisters Taylor and Sarah who were National Champions in 2019.

“I’ll try. It’s close and far at the same time,” said Will.

Wherever their curling paths take, they are lucky enough to find the sport.

“I love the adrenaline rush of the sport,” said Brooke.

“I love curling; the sound of the rock. The butterflies of the pre-final. I live for those, ”said Will.

“We’re all best friends here. We travel together. We take advantage of the time we spend together. We’re like one big family, ”Allie said. “It’s something you don’t want to leave behind. “

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