A mini-vacation in Vernon

Courtesy Cassie Potter

Cassie Potter’s curling team (from left: Potter, Jamie Haskell, Jackie Lemke, and Stephanie Sambor) is preparing for the U.S. Olympic trials in mid-November.

What do I do on my time off?

If asked by a non-curler, that would be easy. I would reply “I curl” and the conversation (after a surprised, brief pause) would inevitably turn to questions about sweeping and how heavy exactly are those stones, and, “Hey, isn’t that an Olympic sport?” And I would reply, “Why, yes. Yes it is.” Sometimes I am asked if I knew the sisters who were on the 2006 Olympics team. True story. For the record, I was one of those sisters.

If asked about my free-time activities by someone who already knows I spend most of my time off curling, it gets more difficult. They’re essentially asking what I do besides curling.

Hmmm ...

Well, I work full-time as a Web designer. And I also spend as much time as I can with my family. I have other interests and activities, like camping, hiking, taking my dogs to the park, reading and doing home improvement projects -- things I can do on a weekend here or a weeknight there.

Cassie Potter

Cassie Potter and the team stayed in Vernon, British Columbia during their last competition and enjoyed every minute of the breathtaking views.

But you can scratch vacations off the list. Most years, a majority of my accrued time off is set aside for curling. And I don’t think most people would consider curling competitions to be a vacation.

We book our flights, ground transportation and accommodations so we can get to our destination with time to settle in, get in practice ice time before the event and a good night’s sleep before our first game.

After that, our days usually go something like this: Wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, get to the arena early, warm up and stretch, throw practice rocks, watch the competition throw their rocks and start our first game.

We’re on the ice for up to two and a half hours. When the game is over, we pack up and meet with our coach for postgame analysis. Then it’s lunch before going back to the hotel to put our feet up for an hour. Then we’re back on the ice with the same sequence of events as before. After the second game we have a good dinner before heading back to the hotel for more game discussion and to plan our next day’s schedule.

There really isn’t much time for sightseeing in there. In fact, it pretty much embodies the common expression of eat, sleep, curl.

Our most recent competition, though, was completely different. It was in Vernon, British Columbia, and our team was invited to stay with a host family who had a gorgeous view of the nearby lake and surrounding mountains.

What a nice change of pace! We’d wake up to see the sunrise coming over the mountains, read on the patio overlooking the lake, and sit and eat in the kitchen in our pajamas. We were so thankful for the hospitality shown to us, and, in those moments, it actually felt more like a vacation.

Our next competition is back to the grind, as we head to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There are only two more competitions and one practice weekend left in our early season before the 2014 U.S. Olympic trials. Will we see you there in Fargo, N.D.? I hope so!

Is there anything you want to know about our team or curling in general? Reach me on Twitter @ccpotter.