NORTHBROOK, Ill. - The Winter Olympics has sparked a new passion in many Team USA fans as the men's curling team won gold early Saturday morning with a win over Team Sweden.
Curling is a quirky game with a relatively small following here in the states. But that's changing, proof of which was inside a packed curling club in Northbrook Saturday.
With packed curling sheets Saturday following America's triumph on the cobbled ice, the Chicago Curling Club is a popular place now and facility veterans marvel at the new popularity of their admittedly quirky sport.
Jim Wilson is a lifelong curler and Chicago Curling Club member for the last eight years.
"There is always new blood and with the Olympics going on the blood, the people that are coming in are very excited about it and so our membership is growing," said curler Jim Wilson. "With the U.S. winning the gold it is just going to continue to be very popular and I think we will get a lot of inquiries."
His enthusiasm is mirrored by Michael Rane, a former Illinois high school champ from the 1980s who rediscovered the game 16 years ago.
"Everybody can do it -- it is a relatively easy sport to be competent enough to play in a local league," said curler Michael Rane.
On this night the club welcomes prospective curlers looking for a new way to pass the winter -- inspired perhaps by Olympic glory, but also curling's number one rule -- have fun.
"In terms of the sporting feat itself, yes, that was a mira-curl on ice," Rane said.
The Olympic experience has inspired Larry and Kathie Kajmowicz to try something new on his 40th birthday
"The main goal is to not fall on your face it is a little slippery on the ice," said first-time curler Larry Kajmowicz.
"After being out there for an hour I feel it was a world of difference... Really comfortable," said Kathie Kajmowicz, another first-time curler.
After the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, USA Curling said it increased membership by more than 18 percent, with 15 new clubs becoming members. After a gold medal that's likely to increase.