Gentlemen's game of curling

Curling comes to Christchurch

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 14:56 30/09/2012
Tony McEnaney left and Toby OSulluvin sweep in front of the stone watched by Brent Stanton. Members of West coast Curling club held a curling competition at the Ice rink at Ice fest on Saturday night

Tony McEnaney left and Toby OSulluvin sweep in front of the stone watched by Brent Stanton. Members of West coast Curling club held a curling competition at the Ice rink at Ice fest on Saturday night

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A group of kilt-wearing, whiskey-swirling, broomstick-holding West Coasters invaded the ice rink in Hagley Park on Saturday.

The West Coast Curling Club, which has no ice to practice on at its base in Greymouth, is driving over from the coast to practice and demonstrate the ''gentlemen's game'' of curling at IceFest.

Vice President Russell Smith said members would be donning the traditional Scottish garb of kilts, knee-high socks, tweed jackets and jimmy hats. 

''We do it for enjoyment and a laugh, we just like having a laugh.''

Smith said the 25-strong club had to travel about two hours to Naseby or to Mt Cheeseman to practice the sport so they generally only played five times a year.

The game, which originated in Scotland, consists of two teams of four players sliding a 20 kilogram granite stone toward a target, similar to a bullseye.

Smith said in outdoor rinks they drilled a crampit, or metal platform, into the ice for players to start from.

He said each player had a specific role, with the ''skip'' calling out instructions, such as telling people to ''crack a wee egg on it'', which means ''knock another stone out of the way''.

''When a good game gets going with calling and banter, a lot of things get said that people don't understand.''

He said it was a very civilised game with strict rules, such as no swearing on the ice or abuse towards the other team.

Six of the club's 25 members demonstrated the game and taught people how to play it at IceFest.

''[The stones] weren't as heavy as they looked,'' said Hanne Nielsen, of Ashburton, who had a go at the game. ''You have to remember to keep your eyes up and swing the stone at the same time.''

She said she was keen to try it again.

Before starting their curling game, the group took a moment to have a ''shot of Scotch'' to remember a few club members who had died recently. 

A game usually takes around three hours, said club member Mark Jones, with social breaks in between to talk about particularly good shots.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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