Curling prodigy, 6, has 4 years experience
Six-year-old Austin Olson is attracting attention in curling circles for his skills in a game where the rocks weigh almost as much as he does.
Olson, who is from Tisdale, Sask., has been curling since the age of two.
"I like the banging," Olson said, when asked about his interest in the game. "All the banging."
His parents said their boy was always keen on the game.
"He seems to have been born with it," Scott Olson, his dad, told CBC News. "When he was two he was playing with the curling broom, throwing toys across the kitchen floor sweeping them. And it's just kind of grown from that to throwing the big rocks."
Both of Austin's parents are recreational curlers so the family spends a lot of time in local rinks.
Brenda Olson said Austin would take every opportunity he could to throw rocks, especially on their homemade sheet in the backyard.
The Olsons have home video of Austin curling at the age of three, with good form and impressive results.
He recently turned six and for his birthday the only thing he wanted to do was throw rocks at the Tisdale curling rink.
He also enjoys curling on TV and is glued to the set whenever there is a brier or other tournament.
Because he is so young, he needs special permission to be on the local curling rink. But he often gets a chance to show his stuff after a bonspiel.
His remarkable abilities, for one so young, have attracted crowds of curious and impressed onlookers.
While Olson is a typical rambunctious youngster, on a sheet of ice he is transformed and becomes a picture of focus.
With an intent gaze on his target he propels a regulation-size rock and then runs to catch up to it so he can sweep it into the house.
"We like to have any kids out there, but at that age — six years old — it's amazing," Ray Dagg, who helps run the Tisdale curling rink, told CBC News. "He has the delivery and the interest.
"We're lucky if we have them interested in it when they're 12, 13 years old, not six. It's just amazing."
With the arrival of spring, the Olson's outdoor rink is melting and the ice at the community centre has been removed.
So Austin will have to be content with watching television coverage of the game he loves so much.
His mother said she has asked him about his ambitions.
"I was videotaping him in the back yard and I made a comment to him. I said, 'Oh buddy who knows. You might be a brier champion one of these years'," Brenda Olson said.
Austin gave his mother a sort of "Aw shucks, mom," reply, she said.
Later, she said they were watching a junior curling match on television, "and I said are you going to do that someday? And he said, 'Yeah'."
Whether it's curling in the backyard or at the local rink or watching it on television, Austin is transfixed by the game.
"I'm pretty amazed," Brenda Olson said. "It's pretty much the only thing he wants to do."