Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview about a topic of local interest.
Who: Jeff Thompson, manager of the Eau Claire Curling Club.
Talks about: The club’s Olympic Open House this weekend featuring a reunion of all four members of the 1998 U.S. Olympic curling team, including Mike Peplinski of Eau Claire.
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Eau Claire Curling Club, 5530 Fairview Drive.
What do you have planned for the Olympic Open House?
We are going to be showing some of the Olympic Games on screens, and depending on who shows up, we will have some pickup games that people can watch.
It’s a chance for people to learn about the sport and watch it with people who know what’s going on.
We also will have some learn-to-curl sessions at 1, 3 and 5 p.m., and if the ice is available people can get out there any other time if someone is available to help them.
People can register ahead of time for those learn-to-curl events on our website, curlingclub.com.
What’s the goal of an event like this?
Every four years during the Olympics people who don’t otherwise think about curling do, and we’d like to let them know we have an active curling community in town.
Our goal is to improve visibility and recruit more members.
We want to share how much fun this is, and the best way to do that is give people a chance to try it.
The event is free and open to anyone who’s interested in learning more about curling or trying curling.
I understand Mike Peplinski of Eau Claire and his former Olympic teammates will be getting together at the event for the first time since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. What will they be doing?
The Olympians will be there about noon.
The plan is for them to mostly sit around and talk and meet people and sign autographs if people want that.
Curling seems to attract its most attention during the Olympics. Is this an especiallyexciting time to be a curler?
It gets people talking about it.
Curlers in general are just a very social group, so having more people ask about curling this time of year gives us more opportunities to talk about it.
Even though our club is about 60 years old, some people don’t even realize we’re here, so we want to make sure people know you can curl right here in Eau Claire.
What is the state of curling in the Chippewa Valley?
I would say it’s very vibrant. We have about 275 members in our club. That’s up from about 80 when I started 15 years ago.
There is curling six nights a week at our club.
We have a junior program Saturday mornings with kids in the upper single digits ranging all the way up to members in their 70s.
— Eric Lindquist