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Curling Drifts to the East, Where Rock Stars Are Being Born

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“There’s a lot of systematic things in Canada that have made it tough for people to continue,” Mr. Lind said. He said there was a lack of funding and no substantial plan to grow the next generation of curlers.

Updated 

Feb. 17, 2022, 11:36 p.m. ET

When Mr. Lind arrived in Japan in 2013, Team Fujisawa had won no medals and lacked international experience. He said the biggest cultural difference was seeing how the team played versus how he had learned the game at home.

In Alberta, he said, curlers learned by playing games. But in Japan, they would hone their technical skills by, for example, sliding through cones 100 times. “Even just to get them to play like a fun game against each other, they’re always kind of a little apprehensive,” Mr. Lind said. “They’re like: ‘No, we just want to practice.’”

The team is named after the skip, 30-year-old Satsuki Fujisawa, and is made up of five women, including two sisters. Three of them come from the northern town of Tokoro, widely considered the birthplace of the sport in Japan.

Curling came to Japan in 1980 after Yuji Oguri, a resident of Tokoro, participated in a workshop with curlers from Alberta.

Mr. Oguri and his friends later began crafting stones from two-liter beer kegs and fashioning their own curling shoes, sticking sheets of plywood and leather to their boots. They created their rinks, stamping on snow to flatten out the surface and periodically sprinkling water to keep it frozen.

“It was tough work, but fun in a way, looking back on it now,” said Shinobu Fujiyoshi, 76, a retired farmer who is the oldest curler on his current team. “There was no amusement or place to go in winter, but it was a place we could get together.”

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