Umpire reaches pinnacle of his sport

Darren Carson at the curling rink at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Photo: Supplied
Darren Carson at the curling rink at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Photo: Supplied
Darren Carson could be laying back enjoying the Central Otago sun. Instead he is on the ice, and struggling to see the sun.

Carson, though, is not complaining - he is at the pinnacle of his sport.

The Naseby carpenter is one of nine umpires in the curling competition at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Carson (47) is the only curling umpire from New Zealand and Australia at the Olympics.

He is in charge of curling games throughout the event, making sure the rules are followed, and is busy every day.

Carson said he was enjoying the Olympics and it was a great experience.

He represented his country in curling between 1995 and 2005. He almost made the Olympics at Salt Lake City in 2002 with the New Zealand team.

The team placed 11th in qualifying and only the top 10 got to go. The New Zealand team made the next Olympics in 2006, but Carson had retired by then.

He started officiating in 2002 at the Pacific Asian Championships in Queenstown as a hog line official and end ice observer, wanting to give something back to the sport.

Slowly he worked his way up the umpiring chain and was made deputy umpire at the Junior Pacific Asian Championships.

In 2014, he got a rapid promotion when he was invited to Beijing for the men's world championships, one of five umpires at the event.

''It was a big learning curve, but was amazing,'' he said in an email to the Otago Daily Times.

He also went to the women's world championships in Sapporo, Japan, in 2015, and the Pacific Asian Championships in Kazakhstan in 2016.

The world junior championships took place in Korea a year ago and Carson was umpiring at the event, in what was a dry run for the Olympics.

He was the chief umpire in Sydney for the Pacific Asian Championships late last year, which he said was quite an honour.

''It has been a great ride and hopefully there will be more opportunities.''

A self-employed carpenter, Carson said all the travel for curling had impacted on his business and he hoped his clients understood.

He has been extremely busy umpiring matches in the past week and it would be full-on until the end of the Games.

Curling actually started two days before the opening ceremony took place and would finish on the final day of the Games, on February 25.

Carson hoped to go to some other sports and cheer on members of the New Zealand team while in Korea.

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