Curling is making a comeback.
The last time the winter sport was played seriously in New York City was more than 100 years ago. But in recent weeks New Yorkers have been throwing stones and sweeping brooms at two ice skating rinks -- with more opportunities to play on the way.
The newest rink to get in on the cold-weather sport is at South Street Seaport, where lessons are offered on Wednesday nights in December.
Curling sessions have also been on-going at the Lakeside skating rink in Prospect Park on Sundays and Wednesdays. Registration is currently open for the January and February sessions for both instructional and competitive leagues.
Lessons at both rinks are overseen by CurlNYC, a club formed to promote the quirky sport in the city. It's also involved in bringing dedicated curling ice to the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a $320 million ice hockey and skating center slated to open in the Bronx in 2017.
The club is encouraged by the presence of curling leagues in New Jersey, Long Island, Dobbs Ferry and Connecticut and the rising profile of the sport in the U.S. after the Vancouver and Sochi Winter Olympics.
"We feel that New York City proper could sustain 12 sheets of curling ice on a full-time basis," said Dean Roth, a co-founder of CurlNYC.
Bay Ridge resident John Avallone, who's taking lessons at Lakeside, first saw curling in the Winter Olympics and wanted to give it a try.
"I remember as a child being fascinated by it," said Avallone, a physics teacher at Stuyvesant High School. "I'm still caught up in how quirky it is."
The sport is often compared to bowling, bocce and shuffleboard, as well as chess for the strategy involved. To play, curlers "throw" 44-pound stones down the ice, while other two teammates "sweep" in front of the stone with brooms to help it glide faster. Teams gain points based on how close they are to a bull's-eye at the opposite end of the ice.
For some, the health benefits are a draw.
"I probably have more upper-body strength now than I ever had," said Roth, who's been curling competitively for nearly 10 years.
The sport's low barrier to entry is also inviting, with players of all fitness levels, experience and ability welcome.
"Curling is very much like golf," Roth said. "You can capture the basics very quickly and be able to play for enjoyment, and spend the rest of your life trying to get good at it."
Curling lessons at South Street Seaport rink are Wednesdays in December from 7-8 p.m. and 8-9 p.m., starting at $50 per person. For more, visit southstreetseaport.com.
The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is holding an open house for its curling program on Dec. 14 from 2-3 p.m. For more, visit lakesidebrooklyn.com.