Lo­cal sta­dium hosts weekly curl­ing matches


A small num­ber of mo­tor ve­hi­cles sit idly out­side the Trinity-Pla­cen­tia Sta­dium in Whit­bourne.

At first glance, it is a group of week­end war­riors get­ting in one last game of shinny be­fore the work week be­gins again on Mon­day. How­ever, an hour or so af­ter the ice skates leave arena on Sun­day nights a dif­fer­ent game takes over.

Some 16 men are throw­ing rocks, sweep­ing and call­ing out shots in a free-flow­ing game of curl­ing. Fea­tur­ing six teams and three si­mul­ta­ne­ous games, the play­ers glide over the peb­bled sur­face re­leas­ing the curl­ing stones and at­tempt­ing the best shot they can.

Wait­ing for the drift­ing rocks are a pair of sweep­ers. Act­ing like a har­bour guide bring­ing a ship into port through treach­er­ous wa­ter, they pa­tiently glide along with the stone wait­ing for the right time to put their brooms in front of the on­com­ing rock and sweep it to its place.

“That one was a bit off,” curler Dar­ryl Ge­orge said with a laugh. His shot had just veered to the left of its des­ti­na­tion and glanced off a guard rock.

Two games over, club pres­i­dent Roy Bennett is hol­ler­ing the familiar curl­ing rink chants ‘hurry’ and ‘hard.’

“It’s great fun,” Bennett told The Compass in be­tween help­ing his team­mates line up their shots. “Right here lads, put it right here.”

Re­ally, it is more so­cial club than sport­ing event. The play­ers com­pete in­side of the eight ends they plan on play­ing, but that is in be­tween smil­ing and jok­ing with each other.

It’s like that ev­ery Sun­day night when they get to­gether. Some from the group com­pete in bon­spiels across the prov­ince. Whether it is the New­found­land and Labrador Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion event or the Home Builder’s As­so­ci­a­tion, they’ll take their skills they ex­hibit here and put them to the test.

“They do quite well at those things,” said Bennett.

The Trinity-Pla­cen­tia Curl­ing Club held its in­au­gu­ral sea­son in the win­ter of 1983. The sport proved to be a hit for or­ga­niz­ers.

Start­ing that year, there was a men’s leagues, a women’s league and a mixed league.

It was some­thing I al­ways wanted try af­ter watch­ing on tele­vi­sion grow­ing up. – Brent Tem­ple

“We had stu­dents com­ing up af­ter school,” said Bill Clarke, who has been curl­ing at the sta­dium since the club first opened.

Get­ting the ice ready

It takes roughly an hour-anda-half to make the con­ver­sion. Once gen­eral skat­ing is over and the last of the ice skaters have left the ice, sta­dium work­ers like Lou Worth­man start the ar­du­ous task of mak­ing it ready for curl­ing.

First, work­ers flood the sta­dium with the ice resur­facer. Then they strap a can­is­ter to their back and be­ing spray­ing small droplets of wa­ter across the play­ing sur­face.

It is a prac­tice called ‘peb­bling.’ Th­ese bumps help the stones glide across the ice. The peb­bles melt ev­ery time a rock passes over them, cre­at­ing a tiny amount of sur­face wa­ter that re­duces the fric­tion.

The stones – they’ve been here since the start of the club – are con­cave on the bot­tom, which also re­duces the sur­face fric­tion. If you tried to curl on hockey ice, the stones would move very lit­tle.

“It’s about a three hour process from get­ting the ice ready for curl­ing to get­ting it ready for hockey,” said Clarke. Gen­er­at­ing in­ter­est With half-a-dozen a team curl­ing reg­u­larly, the group is pleased with the re­sponse this sea­son. How­ever, six teams is down from the nine tak­ing part last year and eight two years ago.

The club would ide­ally like to have eight teams, which would al­low the club to use the full curl­ing area at the sta­dium. Some be­lieve the club is not as widely known as it could be, although there are prospects for more teams next sea­son.

“I could go to some­one in Blake­town and ask if they wanted to curl,” said Bennett. “They might say I can’t go to St. John’s, and I’d tell them there is curl­ing at the sta­dium and they’d be sur­prised.”

The hope is get­ting the word out could gen­er­ate a bit of buzz about a sport that is es­pe­cially popular in Canada. Last year, an of­fi­cial with the Canadian Curl­ing As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mated 90 per cent of all curlers gloa­bally are from this coun­try. ‘It’s a great time’ Ge­orge and Brent Tem­ple are teach­ers in the area. Ge­orge has been curl­ing for sev­eral years, while this is only the sec­ond year play­ing the game for Tem­ple.

“It was some­thing I al­ways wanted to try af­ter watch­ing on tele­vi­sion grow­ing up,” said Tem­ple. “It’s a great time.”



Blake­town’s Scott Smith de­liv­ers a rock dur­ing play at the Trinity-Pla­cen­tia Sta­dium in Whit­bourne on Feb. 8.


Roy Bennett is the pres­i­dent of the Trinity Pla­cen­tia Curl­ing Club.

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