Category - Miscellaneous

Curling stones from Ailsa Craig – Scotland

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If you’ve ever wondered where curling stones come from, I uncovered this interesting story about Ailsa Craig, an island off of Scotland. Apparently there was a mass operation to gather stones from this protected island.

A MAJOR operation is under way to take 1,500 tons of granite from Ailsa Craig — to meet the demand for new curling stones. And Scottish women’s curling successes in Olympic and World championships have given a boost to the six-week enterprise. For it is envisaged the game will gain new popularity in the wake of the triumphs. And Ayrshire firm Kays of Scotland are ready to produce new stones to meet the anticipated demand. Mauchline-based Kays have exclusive rights for the unique Ailsa Craig granite, and the firm has ferried heavy lifting machinery from Girvan harbour on to the rock. A company spokesman said: “Weather held us back, but we finally got the machinery on to the island, and we’re now ferrying granite twice or three times each day.”

Kays stress that the operation, originally scheduled for a year ago, has been planned in co-operation with the conservation watchdogs at Scottish Natural Heritage. And it is understood that no blasting or quarrying is taking place — large granite boulders being simply collected from former quarries. Most of the larger speckled ‘Common Ailsa’ boulders will come from the south end of the island, while the rarer ‘Blue Hone’ will be collected from the north. Ailsa Craig’s large gannet colony — boasting more than 20,000 pairs — is located on the west of the island, and should be unaffected by work which is now at the halfway stage.

Makes for interesting read, check out the entire article here.

Revisited – Warren Hansen’s ‘Curling: The History, The Players, The Game’

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In keeping with the Christmas gift giving season I thought I would touch on something a little bit different today and delve into the world of curling books and curling literature (my mother was kind enough to give me this book for Christmas – thanks Mom!).

Originally published by Key Porter Books back in 1999 – Curling: The History, The Players, the Game – is an impressive collection of curling information meant to serve it would seem as a central guidebook for anyone (novice, expert or observer) interested in the game. Calling this publication a ‘coffee-table book’ would seem a little unfair given the book’s breadth of information, but it does fall into that category given its size, hardcover format, glossy appearance and myriad of photos. But what shines brightest about this book is the staggering array of information about the sport and the fact that it is laid out in an easy-to-consume format and can truly call itself one of the must-own books that every curler should have in their collection (at least for reference sake).

The book was put together by Warren Hansen who is currently the Director of Event Management & Media Relations for the CCA, but he also has a very storied place in the development of curling in this country and as such, seems to be uniquely qualified to write a book such as this. Hansen seems to have touched the game of curling in every way possible – he was a member of Hec Gervais’ Brier-winning rink in 1974, he was also one of Canada’s first curling teachers having launched one of the first curling schools and was one of the Canadian Curling Association’s first employees. To this day he is still very involved in CCA activities, particular the Season of Champions events (Brier, Scott, etc.) and is the managing editor its ‘Extra End’ wrap-up magazine. The foreword to the book was written by none other than former-world champion Kevin Martin.

As the title suggests the book is broken out in three main sections – History, Players and the Game.

I personally found the history section section to be quite interesting, tracing the roots of the game from Scotland through the modern game. But of particular interest was the ‘insider insight’ that someone like Hansen, with his years of service in and around the game, brings to this topic. Particularly the discussion around the inclusion of curling in Olympics was very interesting, with the author providing exclusive insight into the back-room politicking and positioning that eventually resulted in curling being granted full-medal status for the 1998 games in Nagano. As you will read in the book it was not an easy process and the roadblocks that the principles involved ran up against were sometime difficult to deal with (see IOC) and sometimes very surprising (including Ski Canada’s Ken Read?).

As well Hansen’s insider knowledge in the eventual development in a national curling association (see CCA) and the history of the Macdonald (Labatt) Brier makes for a really interesting read.

Along those same lines, Hansen takes the opportunity to wax poetic about some of the great champions of yesteryear from the sport of curling.

For students of the modern game like myself it was really enlightening to learn more about names like Ernie Richardson, Hector Gervais, Bud Somerville and Vera Pezer and others who helped pioneer the competitive game in this country. He also touches on players from the nineties like Sandra Schmirler and Russ Howard.

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Finally, Hansen uses his extensive experience teaching and standardizing the game to provide a thorough guide to the rules, etiquette and playing of the game of curling. As you will see from the photo above he uses extensive photos and figures to illustrate all aspects of the game from the delivery of the stone to sweeping to strategy and much more. I am sure there have been a number of technical manuals written on the sport but this does seem to provide a look at all aspects of the physical game and its strategy that any curler should (or already) knows.

All in all I would recommend this book to other. Here is link to this publication on Amazon.com if you care to take a longer look.

In the coming weeks I will have a look at another popular curling publication The Black Book of Curling – brought to you by our friends at the CurlingZone.

Penticton club inserts new rocks into rotation

An interesting article in the Penticton Western News reports that the Penticton Curling Club has invested in new inserts for their rocks in time for the 2006-07 season. If the program is a success it will mean less maintenance on the rocks and eliminate the need for sharpening the rocks.

“The rocks are made up of two types of granite,” explained PCC ice man Del Haidenger. “Most of the rock is what they call a Red Trevor which is good for striking. The bottom of the rock has been cored out and we’ve put in an insert of what they call Blue Hone granite. It’s a surface better suited to speed and curling.”

Will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend as technology continues to take over in the sport of curling.

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