Austin temperatures may hit the mid-80s in December, but new curling center Curl Austin has kept it cool since September as they teach warm-blooded Austinites about a fast-growing Winter Olympic sport: curling.
The sport, vaguely known by many but deeply understood by few, has its origins in 16th century Scotland but slowly spread as Scottish immigrants moved to North America and other Northern European countries. It's seen a renaissance in the 22 years since it was reintroduced into the Winter Olympics—and now, Austin residents don't have to wait until February to catch curling in action and even learn about it themselves.
Curl Austin is Texas' only curling-specific gym, an important detail for curling connoisseurs who know all too well the nicks and scrapes that hinder good curling at hockey rinks. That's because small droplets of ice are carefully formed on the surface of Curl Austin and other curling rinks across (mostly) the North, creating a challenge as curlers work to keep their stones straight and as close to the bulls-eye as possible. Consider it a giant shuffleboard on ice.
It's a sport that involves brooms, beer and even tech-savvy strategy—the perfect recipe for Austin and eventually the rest of the country, according to Curl Austin President David Gersenson.
"I love Austin... it's my type of place (and) I was really excited about it," Gersenson told Austonia. "I believe ultimately that curling is going to fit into every culture."
Gersenson, a Michigan native, compares the sport to pickleball, another once-obscure game that has taken Austin by storm. Like pickleball, which Gersenson has fervently picked up as well, curling can be embraced by people of all ages and skill levels.
At their two-hour Learn to Curl classes, Gersenson said they've seen curlers as young as 10 and old as 86 pick up the inclusive sport. It's a largely gender-neutral sport as well, and Gersenson said there are even having preliminary talks about a coed curling league.
"Big or small, young or old, athletic or arthritic, anybody can curl," Gersenson said. "It gives kids who don't have a sport, a sport that they can compete in that's more about balancing, communication and strategy."
And in true Austin-adjacent fashion, curling is a rare sport that promotes drinking beer—before, after and even during the game. By complete chance, Curl Austin is nestled right next to brewery Austin Beerworks and offers to pick up and bring beers to customers during their lessons.
"Beer and curling go together like peanut butter and jelly," Gersenson said.
And people are beginning to notice the easygoing nature of the sport. Even with COVID restrictions, curling grew by 18% in the U.S. in 2020. The rise of the sport—which has strangely been the butt of a joke for multiple Texas politicians—can also be attributed to what Texas Monthly labeled a "miracurl on ice," when the underdog men's team shocked the world by taking home a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
The rink has seen its fair share of challenges since its opening in September as an emerging winter sport in a balmy state. But they found help in the highest of places, when one of those famed gold-medal Olympians, Tyler George, joined the crew for a few months as Curl Austin's program manager and ambassador.
At just three months old, Curl Austin is focused on getting its feet on the ground and offering Learn to Curl events several days a week as well as private and group events. It has grown each month, something they think will only continue as the 2022 Winter Olympics take off in February 2022.
"We all believe that curling is a sport that America, once they really get into it, is going to fall in love with," Gersenson said. "I think that it's been a little underground now but has been gaining steam since being reintroduced into the Olympics. We still may be a little bit ahead of our time, but we believe it's coming in at some point."
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By Eleanor Klibanoff
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional protection for abortion and allowing states to set their own laws regulating the procedure. This represents one of the most significant judicial reversals in a generation and is expected to have far-reaching consequences for all Texans.
Texas will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling, with narrow exceptions only to save the life of a pregnant patient or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”
The law that will go into effect in 30 days criminalizes the person who performs the abortion, not the person who undergoes the procedure.
This ruling will radically change the reproductive health care landscape in Texas and the entire nation, where more than half of all states are expected to essentially ban abortion in the coming months.
Most of Texas’ neighboring states are also expected to outlaw abortion as a result of this ruling, with one exception: New Mexico. As the sole outlier in the region, New Mexico is expected to become a haven for Texans seeking abortions. The state currently has no significant restrictions and no plans to limit access to the procedure.
Friday’s ruling represents a victory nearly five decades in the making for Texas’ anti-abortion advocates, who have played an outsized role in the national effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It also represents a crushing blow to the state’s abortion providers, who have fought to maintain abortion access in Texas amid a nearly endless parade of restrictions, limitations and political attacks.
Roe v. Wade’s Texas roots
Before it became one of the most well-known Supreme Court cases in the country, Roe v. Wade was just a Texas lawsuit.
More than five decades ago, a woman identified in the legal filings as Jane Roe, later revealed to be Norma McCorvey, wanted an abortion. But under Texas’ laws at the time, it was a crime to perform or “furnish the means for procuring” an abortion.
Two young female lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, saw an opportunity to use McCorvey’s case to challenge Texas’ abortion law more broadly. They filed a suit against Dallas County prosecutor Henry Wade, who would be the one responsible for bringing charges against anyone who violated the abortion law.
The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 1973 Justice Harry Blackmun shocked the nation with a ruling that blocked not just Texas’ abortion laws from being enforced, but all state laws that banned abortion early in pregnancy.
Blackmun agreed with Coffee and Weddington’s argument that the right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution extended to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. That right to privacy must be balanced with the state’s interest in the “potentiality of human life,” a balance that shifted in the state’s favor the further along a woman was into her pregnancy.
This ruling did little to settle the abortion debate in the United States, instead kicking off nearly five decades of anti-abortion activism and legal challenges seeking to overturn the decision.
Texas, the birthplace of Roe v. Wade, has led many of those legal challenges, including a landmark 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld Roe v. Wade and the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
But the Supreme Court has become much more conservative in recent years, thanks to three appointments by former President Donald J. Trump.
In late 2021, the court declined to block a Texas law that banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy through a novel enforcement mechanism that empowers private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” in an abortion.
That law remains in effect and will not be immediately impacted by Friday’s ruling.
In December, the court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson, a challenge to Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Rather than considering just the law itself, the court agreed to consider the question of whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned — and today’s ruling gave the answer.
Ongoing legal questions
But if Roe v. Wade did little to end the debate about abortion in the United States, Dobbs v. Jackson is not expected to settle the question either.
Health care providers are worrying about how these laws will impact their ability to provide care for high-risk pregnancies or people experiencing miscarriages. Some local district attorneys have said that they won’t prosecute abortion cases in their jurisdictions.
One such challenge is already looming, as state Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican from Deer Park, has made it clear he intends to target nonprofit advocacy groups that help pregnant patients pay for abortions.
Under the current law banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, these abortion funds have helped hundreds of pregnant people leave the state to get an abortion. They’ve paid for travel, lodging, child care and the procedure itself, and they’re preparing for a surge in demand now that abortion is further restricted.
But Cain, an anti-abortion legislator, has issued cease-and-desist letters to these groups, warning that their work may be criminalized under the state laws that were on the books before 1973.
That argument didn’t carry much weight when Roe v. Wade was in effect. Now, legal experts say this may represent the first of many legal questions that will need to be sorted out by the courts as the state begins to navigate an entirely new reproductive health care landscape.
Arch Manning, the latest prospect in the Manning football family and No. 1 recruit in the class of 2023, has committed to the University of Texas.
Manning is the nephew of Eli and Peyton Manning and the son of Cooper Manning, a former wide receiver for Ole Miss. The Manning football legacy began with Archie Manning, Arch Manning's grandfather and namesake who played for the New Orleans Saints throughout the 1970s.
Committed to the University of Texas. #HookEmpic.twitter.com/jHYbjBaF5K
— Arch Manning (@ArchManning) June 23, 2022
Manning joins head Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian's program after a disappointing 5-7 first season. Manning, who has been the starting quarterback at New Orlean's Newman High School since he was a freshman, was the No. 1 recruit in the 2023 class, according to 247sports.
Manning had plenty of SEC suitors, including Georgia, Alabama and LSU, but committed to Texas after a recent visit to Austin.
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