Olympics create winter sports buzz in Michiana

SOUTH BEND The Sochi 2014 Olympics are right around the corner, and the buzz is building across the world. Interest in winter sports is growing too, including in Michiana, and not just to watch, but more people want to play.

Newscenter 16 stopped by Compton Family Ice Arena to find out how people are getting active, and the staff says interest is building, but the biggest rush will be right after the winter games.

"Once those Olympics are over we're going to see a lot of people who want to come to our facility and try that particular sport," said Mike McNeill, the Manager of programming and instruction at Compton Family Ice Arena.

The arena offers everything from skating lessons to hockey leagues. Plus, they've seen increased popularity in a sport once thought to have gone by the wayside- curling.

"That is probably the newest activity we have here, which honestly has exploded in these last couple of years," said McNeill.

Popularity of ice sports has grown in the past decade, in part, thanks to the Olympics. Staff says growth is also thanks to Michiana's location.

"South Bend is not a typical hockey hot bed," said Kevin Deeth, the Assistant Manager of programming and instruction at Compton. "But because of the Chicago Blackhawks, because of the Notre Dame hockey team that has done great over the last 10 years, our growth has been astronomical. The interest from those teams alone and the fans has encouraged kids to come out and try our programs."

Staff at Compton says the popularity is due to the interest across the world for the Olympics. Plus, the sports are not typical TV athletics.

"Just because of its exposure on TV and it's availability, it's really 24-7 for 3 weeks," said Deeth. "People are attached to it, there's some feel good stories there, in non-traditional sports. Its kind of a breath of fresh air, for people that see football or basketball, things like that every day, it's a little bit of a novelty factor and we really try to capture that here."

Winter sports programs kick off at the end of February, and to learn more about how to get involved, visit the Compton webpage.

Remember, NBC is your home for the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Click here for TV listings.

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