Smithsonian: Why Curling Ice Is Different Than Other Ice

curling iceWhat makes curling ice so different than other ice?  What extra preparation has to be done to the ice?  And how does sweeping really work?

The Smithsonian Magazine has a great article out this month that dives into detail about what goes into making curling ice – and how it is different from, say, ice used for figure skating or hockey.  The key part about the ice is:

If curling ice was flat, the stone would move barely halfway across the “sheet,” or curling lane. And that’s assuming the curler is hurling it as hard as possible. Friction would halt the rock within seconds. So, to make the ice more amenable to the sport, devoted ice makers employ a technique called “pebbling.” More or less what it sounds like, pebbling involves freezing small droplets of water across the playing surface between each match.

Curling stones weigh 44 pounds. They are concave, on bottom, which limits the contact they have with the ice. The curling stone’s concave bottom, which limits how much it comes into contact with the ice, and the pebbles reduce friction. Essentially, the pebbles melt a bit when the heavy stone runs across them, creating a micro-layer of water upon which the stone can glide.

The pebbles create the “spin” (or curl, hence the sport’s name) of the stone after it’s released, at least in part; physicists contend that something called “wet friction” also accounts for the curl. Sweepers—those furious ice brushers who’ve become fodder for Olympic memes and GIFS—use a broom to brush the pebbles, thereby changing how the stone spins. Specific techniques melt the pebbles, reducing friction and helping the stone travel even farther and straighter. Naturally, the game changes as the pebbles erode, and sweepers have to constantly compensate.

The article goes on to talk about the efforts made by professional ice-makers (and yes, there are those people) to prepare the ice for events such as the Sochi Olympics.  It’s well worth a read to understand why curling ice is different!

(And if you found that interesting, please sign up to help us bring curling to Keene!)

Great Keene Sentinel Article About Bringing Curling To The Region

Keene Sentinel article about curlingMany thanks to the Keene Sentinel for their great article on the front page of the Sports section in today’s Sunday paper.  It nicely promotes the open house happening today down at Petersham Curling Club and also mentions the work we are looking to do to bring a dedicated curling facility to Keene and the Monadnock region.  The online article strangely didn’t include any photos, but the print version has a few great photos.

If you are visiting this site from the Keene Sentinel’s site or because of the article, THANK YOU!  If you would like to see curling happen in the Keene region, there are three things you can do to help:

1. Visit the Petersham CC Open Houses – The closest place to curl right now is the Petersham Curling Club and to make curling a reality in Keene we need to build a group of people who know how to curl and want to make it happen here.  So please do check out the PCC open houses today from 12-5 and on this Thursday, Feb 20 from 6-9.   If you’d like to do more, please join the PCC and also check out their upcoming “Learn to Curl” sessions.

2. Fill out our interest form – Even if you’ve never tried it and just think it looks interesting, we need to get a sense of how many people are interested in the sport of curling.  We’re also definitely looking for people who would be interested in helping us build the organization in many different ways.

3. Spread the word! – Please help us spread the word that there are people who want to bring the sport of curling to Keene and the greater Monadnock region.  Tell people about the website… follow us on social media (and share/retweet our info)… invite us to come talk to your group (we can explain curling! 🙂 )… just let people know we’re here!

Thank you for visiting – and let’s bring curling to the region!

Reminder – Curling Open House TODAY at Petersham Curling Club

Petersham Open HousesWant to try out curling TODAY?  As we mentioned earlier, the Petersham Curling Club is having an Open House free to anyone TODAY, Sunday, February 16, from 12-5pm.

The  Petersham Curling Club (PCC) is about 45 minutes south of Keene. Just head south on Route 32 (going down past the Keene airport) and stay on Route 32 all the way down through Richmond, NH, Royalston, MA, Athol and on into Petersham.  The club is located right off of Route 32. More information can be found on the PCC directions page. In good weather it takes about 45 minutes to get from Keene down to the Petersham club.

At today’s Open House, you’ll learn how to deliver a stone, the role of sweeping and more. This will be a great opportunity to get on the ice and experience the sport yourself. All you need to bring is a pair of clean, rubber-soled shoes and your enthusiasm!

The Petersham Curling Club is a great place to curl and is where several of us involved with starting up the Monadnock Curling Club all curl.  We strongly encourage you to head down to Petersham, MA, and check out the Open Houses.  And if the curling bug bites you as it has us, please do join the PCC and start playing the awesome sport of curling!

This is where you can get started today and enjoy curling!

And then…  please let us know you are interested in seeing curling come to Keene!

 

Why We Want Dedicated Curling Ice, Part 1: It’s About The Schedule!

Calendar of activitiesWhy do we want dedicated curling ice versus curling on an ice arena?  With the great success happening with Keene Ice’s plans for a new year-round ice arena here in Keene (which is awesome!), we’ve had several people asking this question – and the reality is that we may need to use arena ice as part of our process of starting up, but our end goal is very definitely to have dedicated curling ice in the Keene region.

We touched on this subject in our FAQ, but I want to expand on the reasons.  The primary reason is scheduling. With an arena, you are competing for time with the many hockey leagues, the figure skating clubs, the public skating time, as well as rentals and other uses.  The end result is that you typically only get to have time for curling on one day of the week, and even then at a time of little interest to others, in part because you really need about a 5-hour block of time to do setup/tear-down and play two games. (A typical curling game of 8 ends lasts about 2 hours.)  If you look at the websites for some of the arena curling clubs in the region, you’ll see that they are typically only playing on one or two days of the week.

In contrast, with dedicated ice you can have curling happening on every day of the week – and can also frequently run curling “bonspiels” (“tournaments”) that bring in people and teams from around the region.

Curling Leagues

Consider the schedule of activities at nearby Petersham Curling Club.  Here is their schedule:

  • Mondays – Men’s League with multiple evening games.
  • Tuesdays – Daytime League at 2pm.  Men’s League in the evening
  • Wednesdays – Women’s League
  • Thursdays – “Signature” League (A highly competitive league.)
  • Fridays – Mixed (men and women) League in the evening.
  • Saturdays:
    • Youth Curling League from 9 – 12:15pm
    • Mixed Doubles League some Saturday afternoons
    • Rentals of curling ice some Saturday afternoons
    • Mixed (men and women) League in the evening
  • Sundays – Rentals of curling ice on some Sunday afternoons.  “Under 5” (years of play) social league in the evening.

That makes for a LOT of activity!  And there are other rentals that take place during the day and other activities that happen at the club from time to time.  Here in Keene we would also see curling ice being able to be potentially used by the schools for physical education activities – and we could potentially see our colleges being interested in having some curling activities or teams.

Or consider Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, MA. They also have multiple leagues playing each day of the week – and their club is full!  You CANNOT join even if you wanted to!  They have a waiting list and simply cannot accept people into their club because they have no room for people to play.  Here is what their league calendar looks like (and this doesn’t include their active youth curling program, their college program or their rentals):

Broomstones_Curling_Club

You can’t build this kind of community and activity around curling with just a few hours of rented ice arena time!

Bonspiels (Tournaments)

For scheduling, the other big issue is the hosting of curling “bonspiels” which are tournaments where teams compete.  I’ll write more about the potential economic impact of bonspiels in another article, but suffice it to say they are a great way to get people excited about curling and to bring in a large number of people from outside the region (and to have them staying in Keene hotels, eating at our restaurants, shopping at our stores, etc.).

A typical adult bonspiel begins with multiple games on a Friday night, has games all day on Saturday and then usually has multiple games on a Sunday as well.  Typically there is also a dinner or other social event involved as well.  The point is that the ice is used occupied for pretty much the entire weekend.

This is a severe challenge to try with an ice arena given the many other needs of the other groups using an ice arena.  The arena curling clubs with which I am familiar are often able to do a bonspiel maybe once a year – or sometimes they are able to get single-day events happening from time-to-time.

In contrast, dedicated clubs can run a bonspiel each month if they chose to do so… all really depending upon their own organizational capabilities.  Some, like Broomstones, do run multiple events for adults, youth (and different levels of youth), seniors, mixed leagues and more.

THAT Is Why

This is really the big reason why our end goal is to have dedicated curling ice here in the Keene and greater Monadnock region – either as a completely separate facility or as part of an existing facility. We want to build a strong curling community and have a financially strong and viable club. We want to have many different leagues and other activities as we outlined in our vision.

Please join us! Help us make this a reality!

Enjoying Watching Olympic Curling? TRY IT OUT This Sunday in Petersham, MA

Petersham Open HousesAre you enjoying watching curling at the Sochi Olympics? Are you intrigued by the game and want to learn more?  Would you like to try it out yourself?

The great news is that you CAN try it this Sunday, February 16, from 12-5pm, and then again on Thursday, February 20, from 6-9pm.

The great folks down at the Petersham Curling Club (PCC), about 45 minutes south of Keene, are holding two FREE open houses to help people learn about the game.  As noted on their page about the curling open houses, the two upcoming dates are:

  • Sun, Feb 16, 12-5 pm – At this Open House you’ll have a chance to actually try the sport of curling.  You’ll learn how to deliver a stone, the role of sweeping and more. This will be a great opportunity to get on the ice and experience the sport yourself!
  • Thurs, Feb 20, 6-9 pm – This will be a week-night version of the Feb 16th Open House where you will again get a chance to try out the sport of curling.

All you need to bring is a pair of clean, rubber-soled shoes and your enthusiasm!  You’ll have the chance to try out the great game of curling that you are seeing on the Olympics.

It’s easy to get to the Petersham Curling Club – from Keene just head south on Route 32 (going down past the Keene airport) and stay on Route 32 all the way down through Richmond, NH, Royalston, MA, Athol and on into Petersham.  The club is located right off of Route 32. More information can be found on the PCC directions page. In good weather it takes about 45 minutes to get from Keene down to the Petersham club.

The Petersham Curling Club is a great place to curl and is where several of us involved with starting up the Monadnock Curling Club all curl.  We strongly encourage you to head down to Petersham, MA, and check out the Open Houses.  And if the curling bug bites you as it has us, please do join the PCC and start playing the awesome sport of curling!

And then…  please let us know you are interested in seeing curling come to Keene!

 

Great Video About The Sport Of Curling In Petersham, MA!

Recently WWLP-TV22 recorded a great video segment about curling at the Petersham Curling Club as part of their “Mass Appeal” show. The video gives a great overview of the sport of curling and shows how open the sport is to anyone to participate.  (And if you are interested in trying out curling yourself, the Petersham Curling Club has open houses about curling coming up on February 8, 16 and 20!)

And if you think this looks like a great kind of club to have in Keene, please sign up to help us! (And please read our vision of what we are trying to do.)

Road Trip To Montreal? Awesome Women’s Curling In Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb 1-9

2014 Scotties Tournament of HeartsWow! I had no idea that the amazing “Scotties Tournament of Hearts” was happening this year so close to us up in Montreal, Quebec!

From Saturday, February 1, 2014, through Sunday, February 9, you’ll have the opportunity to watch some of the best women’s curling teams out there competing in this annual Canadian curling championship. Given the Canadian love of curling, the competition is fierce and so the teams that make it into the “Scotties” play at an unbelievable level of the sport. They typically make shots that I could only dream of someday making!

Alas, I don’t think that I’ll be able to make it up to Montreal this year, but if you can it would be an amazing experience to see these curling teams in action!  No news on their site or their Facebook page about a live video stream but perhaps we’ll see more about that closer to the time of the event.