LumberjAxes has moved from its indoor throwing range to the brisk outdoors with Sliders Curling, touted as the city's first competitive, bar-style ice curling rink.
Opening Wed., Nov. 27 and operating throughout the winter, the Millvale-based business, located outside of LumberjAxes, welcomes anyone aged 12 and up to try curling, the winter sport that involves sliding a smooth granite weight across a sheet of ice toward a target.
With origins going back to early 16th century Scotland, curling was played in cold-weather countries like Canada but grew in popularity after it became an official Olympic sport in 1998.
At Sliders, guests will play a bar-style, i.e. easier, more accessible version of the game compared with the one familiar to Winter Olympics fans, which includes a team that frantically sweeps in front of the weight to try and steer it toward the target. Rather than have patrons walk on and sweep the ice, competitors will take turns throwing the weights while standing on rubber mats. Each group of guests will also have a dedicated coach to go over safety and the technique and rules of the game.
The coach will then keep score and guide the group through preliminary matches before a final tournament for gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Guests are also encouraged to dress warmly for the elements. Those who get too chilly have the option of going into a warm-up tent or taking a break in the LumberjAxes bar.
LumberjAxes founding partner Corey Deasy believes Sliders will appeal to patrons looking for unique experiences. The growth of LumberjAxes reflects this as the business has expanded into Mt. Lebanon, Cranberry, and Monroeville after opening its first location in Millvale in 2017.
“Through the success of our axe-throwing venues, we discovered that the people of Pittsburgh are really up for trying new, interactive entertainment,” says Deasy in a press release. “So we figured, since we all have to deal with icy weather in the winter anyway, we might as well take advantage of it and introduce a new outdoor entertainment option that requires cold temperatures.”
Adding to the fun is that Sliders will be BYOB, with the promise of full bar service coming soon.
Curling has gained a bit of a following in Pittsburgh, enough so that an entire practice facility for the nonprofit Pittsburgh Curling Club is currently being built on McCoy Road in Stowe Township (it’s slated to open in early 2020). Since its founding in May 2002, the club claims to have introduced curling to over 5,000 people.
In a joint statement, the Pittsburgh Curling Club welcomed Sliders to Western Pennsylvania, adding they "support the growth of the sport in all fashions for our region.” While the club believes Sliders lacks some of the more exciting elements of curling, including "the strategy, the sweeping, and the sheer fun of working together as the stone curls down the ice to land a perfect T-line shot," they also see it as a great entry to the sport.
“Sliders gives a unique opportunity for friends to gather to touch and throw a curling stone,” says the Pittsburgh Curling Club statement. “This is a great way to provide a very introductive how-to about curling.”