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      Finlandia's curling team headed to nationals

      A winter sport growing in popularity in the Upper Peninsula and around the country is curling.

      The game of sliding 42-pound rocks across a sheet of ice while teammates feverishly sweep in front of them is putting Finlandia University on the athletic map.

      Finlandia's curling team started in 2010, but they have already proved themselves to be one of the best in the country; seventh best, to be exact. Their skills are taking them to the curling nationals in Duluth, Minnesota, March 8-10, where they will compete against 15 other teams.

      The team agreed that although it seemed like an odd sport to get into at first, they've been bitten by the curling bug.

      "My curling experience has been great from day one," said Finlandia sophomore and team skip (captain), Nathan Jarvi. "It gives you great opportunity to meet people that you wouldn't normally meet."

      "Just hearing the sound of stones colliding," said Finlandia junior, George Kallas.

      "It challenges individuals to put honor before ego," explained Finlandia junior, Ashlee Kranz.

      Curling may not look like a difficult sport, but don't be fooled. It takes a lot of leg strength, balance, and strategy.

      "People don't probably always think it's that hard, but you actually get a good workout," Jarvi explained. "There's a lot of strategy in curling, so you got to be planning shots out ahead of time."

      For all the hard work these students have put in to perfect their skills, the only thing they are lacking is funding. Because curling is a club sport, the team has to pay out of pocket for all travel expenses, uniforms, and equipment, which they're currently borrowing from another club.

      University chaplain and curling advisor, Soren Schmidt, said this is a great opportunity to show support of the club and Finlandia.

      "These students already have student loans, and they're already digging deep in their pockets for a lot of other reasons," said Schmidt. "This would be a nice way to honor them and make them feel comfortable as they're representing the Upper Peninsula."

      "Most people up here think Finlandia is like nothing," Kallas expressed. "We're trying to get our word out and show what Finlandia is and what it's about and try to get more people to come up here to curl with us."

      For more information on how to sponsor the team, contact Soren Schmidt at