By SARAH GROSS
When the Icy Lights winter block party took over Oakland Avenue earlier this month, a pair of Pitt police officers were at the center of the activity, and they weren’t there to keep order.
The Visnich brothers — Alexander, 27, and Nicholas, 31 — have both been members of the Pitt police force for about four years, but they’ve been involved with their true passion — curling — for much longer. They shared their enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics sport at the March 1 Icy Lights event, sponsored by the Oakland Business and Improvement District.
Nicholas joined the Pitt Police with big dreams of becoming part of the FBI one day, while Alexander joined with more of a general interest and passion from the police academy. Both brothers studied at Pitt before starting to work on campus.
“We’re inseparable, so everyone refers to us as twins,” Alexander Visnich said.
The brothers’ interest in curling began while watching the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and spiked again during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
“In the summer of 2005, when we were on Christmas break in high school, we went out to the (Pittsburgh Curling) club for a ‘learn to curl’ and ended up joining (the league) that night, and have been curling ever since,” Alexander Visnich said. The club meets at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Neville Island.
They currently are part of the team representing Pittsburgh in the arena national championships, and the Grand National Curling Club championships. They won gold medals at the Grand National championships in 2010-2011, and at the arena national championships in 2016.
“We would love, more than anything, to become Olympians,” Alexander Visnich said.
For now, they’re more than content to teach Pittsburghers how to curl. At the block party, the two ran curling tutorials, did demonstrations, and even helped to orchestrate the Pittsburgh mascot curling competition.
“I think I found where I’m supposed to be right now,” Alexander Visnich said. “Helping the Oakland community, and now exposing the Oakland community to curling.”
Sarah Gross is a junior nonfiction writing major and a contributing writer for the University Times.