30 years of curling it just right
Erika Brown competed in curling at her first Winter games at the tender age of 15, and she just keeps coming back for more.
Prior to becoming an elite curler on ice, Erika made a name for herself on the green grass of golf. She was Wisconsin State High School champion in 1990 and ’91, was on the University of Wisconsin 1994 Big Ten Championship team, and was twice the city of Madison, Wisconsin women’s champion. She notes golf is a perfect companion sport for curling because both require similar skills and intense focus. Oh, and she also hit .400 as a little league baseball player, on a boys team.
Erika plays the “skip,” or captain’s role, leading her curling team with the responsibility for making all the strategic decisions throughout the game. She also executes the last 2 shots for her team on each “end”—10 ends (which are similar to innings in baseball) are played in each game. Often referred to as “chess on ice,” curling is a highly strategic game related to lawn bowls and shuffleboard that involves lively communication amongst the team, and vigorous sweeping in front of the curling stone (also known as a “rock”) to help determine where it will stop after its slide down the ice sheet.
Don’t think curling is a workout? Know this: each stone weighs 42-44 pounds, and you start it sliding down the ice from a deep, knee-and-hip-straining lunge that takes flexibility, balance, stamina, and strength. And if you’re a sweeper (whose job it is to help effect the speed, distance, and direction of the stone after it starts moving down the ice), in the course of a game you can wield your brush, strenuously, for nearly a mile. In fact, recreational curlers are often sore for days after their first matches of the season.
Erika comes from a legendary curling family. Her parents are champion curlers and her younger brother is also a member of the American men’s curling team. She is married to Canadian curling legend Ian Tetley and raising a family of her own—two boys who are sure to inherit some of the drive and genetics that make the Browns the unofficial First Family of U.S. Curling.
- 3-time Winter Games competitor: 1988 Calgary; 1998 Nagano; 2014 Sochi
- 7-time U.S. Women’s National Champion
- 2-time World Championship silver medalist
- 6-time competitor at the World Junior Curling Championships; 3-time medal winner
“Fitness and a healthy lifestyle have helped me maintain my longevity in curling through three decades and three winter Games.”