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That gave curling its small-town feel. Landsteiner learned the game from his father, Steve, who played recreationally, and his uncle, Gary Kleffman, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world championship in 1976.

Another U.S. Olympian, Jared Zezel, learned the sport because his parents, Joe and Anna, used to let him practice on a spare sheet while they played in a league at the local curling club. One day, they were approached by Kleffman and Joe Roberts, who offered to teach Jared how to play.

“He was just throwing rocks, and they went out and started fine-tuning him, and it kind of got into his head that, ‘Wait, I’ve got former world champions that want to work with me? Maybe I’ve got some kind of potential,’” Joe Zezel said. “Then he got involved in different places with curling. He went up Canada a few times when he was young with different teams, and he really got the bug doing that.”

Curling first became an Olympic competition at the 1924 Chamonix Games, but didn’t return to the program full time until the Nagano Games in 1998.

The Vancouver Olympics became a turning point for the sport’s popularity in the United States, mostly because NBC televised it frequently. This year, CNBC will carry a game each day throughout the competition, including the men’s and women’s finals, and games will be streamed live through NBC’s Olympics website.

“I think the Olympics has really changed how people think about curling and who thinks that they can curl,” Roberts said. “You see in the Olympics that it’s people of all ages, so I think it’s sort of shifted the demographic a lot.”

The Kirkmans play together in one league, while Linda plays in two others and schedules the teams for another on Sunday nights. They also volunteered to help lay down the ice, a month-long process that finished in October, and will compete in their first away tournament, in Rochester, N.Y., next week.

“We thought we were just going to come watch one morning, and then we ended up learning, and then playing,” Linda Kirkman said. “We thought it was going to be a one-time thing, or maybe two.”

“Play a Saturday morning, ‘Well, that was fun,’” Russ Kirkman said. “‘Well, let’s go back.’ Now our friends know about it.”