To the Olympic Committee…

Senior hopes to make Olympic curling team

Brynn Friesen, Staff Writer

He stares down the freezing ice, focused on guiding the stone with his curling broom. It is March 2018 in Vancouver, Canada, and senior Darren Lee has first started his training in the sport of curling.

Lee discovered the sport and future curling team through his father’s job. 

“When I was in Vancouver, my father told me someone from work told him that they were recruiting a junior curling team for Taiwan, also known as Chinese Taipei,” Lee said. “At first, I didn’t really know what curling was about, but after immersing myself in the game, something clicked about the sport. Eventually, I found myself surrounded by many other Taiwanese junior curlers like me, and we formed a team to go compete in the World Junior Curling Championships.”

According to Lee, the sport is played by a small team, each player executing their own role.

“There are four players on the ice and one substitute player on the bench just in case someone gets injured,” Lee said. “Each of the four players on the ice gets a certain position that they play [with] chronological orders [in which] they throw the stone.”

Two sweepers — players who guide the stone — are present when another player is throwing a rock, while the third and skip positions “take turns commanding the shot to take on the other side of the ice.” The team with the stone the closest to the center of the house at a given end receives one point. 

“Any additional stones that are in the house can also be considered for points,” Lee said.

In the U.S., Lee plays at the KC Curling Club, the only available rink near him.

“In the Junior Curling Championships, I have competed against many countries such as Japan, Korea, Finland, Germany, England and Italy,” Lee said.

While Lee sometimes trains in Vancouver, he mostly trains in Kansas. However, the separation from his teammates makes it difficult for him to practice to the same level as with his team.

“Personally, I am training to further improve my skill as a curler through individual practice, watching games and playing games,” Lee said. “Because I am separated from my teammates who live in Canada, I can really only practice individually due to having no coach or teammates on the team with me in Kansas. Normally I play a few games with the local curlers just so I don’t get rusty.”

Lee is not only a citizen of the U.S. — he also has citizenship in Taiwan, which has proven to pose difficulties. 

“I thought about representing the U.S. junior team a few times,” Lee said. “However, because Taiwan doesn’t have anyone else other than me and my teammates to represent the junior team, I decided to represent Taiwan. I am a proud Taiwanese, and I want to make the sport more popular in Taiwan.”

Curling brings a new adventure for Lee to experience.

“I enjoy the thrill of traveling to other countries to compete — not many people can say they are international athletes,” Lee said. “I also love meeting new people from different countries and making more friends.”

Lee has progressed through the sport and is now moving up to the men’s team, allowing him to continue the sport into adulthood. 

“To represent Taiwan and go to the Olympics would mean so much to me,” Lee said. “Taiwan has never been able to make it to the Olympics for curling, and being the first team to be in the Olympics would be the greatest honor.”