25 April 2011

The End of the Curling Season

Some parts of the United States are lucky enough to have curling ice all year long.  In San Diego, where curling is played on arena ice, curling can happen all year long.  In Rochester, NY, where we curl on dedicated ice, we cannot afford to keep ice made in the warmer months.  So, from mid-April until mid-September, we melt our ice and close our club.

The day we shut the compressor off, we have a Last Chance Bonspiel.  This was the first year I went to this event at my club... well, wait.  I should amend that to say that we haven't always shut off our compressor at the Last Chance.  My first year in the club, I did curl on the last night of curling for the year, but it was not the Last Chance.  However, now, we shut off the compressor at the Last Chance.

We start the Last Chance by picking teams out of a hat.  That's fun - I got to play with people I don't normally play with (including the evening's self-proclaimed photographer, who did an excellent job!).  And we played with wacky rules that changed per end - one end only allowed rocks on the center line to score, for example.  In years past, ends have been played to diagonal houses - that makes for some potential for interesting collisions.  

In between ends, we exercised a great curling tradition:

Broomstacking.  Note the crowd in the bar.  Broomstacking is the act of stacking the brooms in the house and heading to the bar for a drink.  On this day, the drink of choice was whiskey.  I will say, my game play after broomstacking was not quite as sharp as my play beforehand.  On this day, that didn't matter, though.  We were just having a lot of fun.  By the way, it is important to note that our aforementioned photographer, Tia, was taking a picture of our house.

After six ends, we called it a match and headed to the bar.  Thankfully, I had gotten a ride this day, because there was no way I could have driven home.  We had dinner - sure, it was pizza and wings, but we do live in Western New York, so it had to be that.  

And then it was time for the ceremony. At the end of every season, we toast to the Compressor Gods, to make sure that our 40+ year old compressor has a nice rest for the summer and comes back to us in the winter, healthy and ready to make ice.  It truly is a sad moment for many of us who long to curl all year.  And it's sad because we are saying goodbye to friends for the summer.

This year, however, we had a reason to move on.  This compressor, and its ancillary supporting components, were being removed two days later and sent to Pittsburgh, to help them in their quest from arena to club curling.  We had purchased a brand new unit, and it was being installed the very next week.  

After that, it was time to have some fun.  Just like at the Olympics after the torch is extinguished, this sad moment signaled our time to party.  Our ice is physically divided in half, with two sheets on each side.  One half of our ice was used for a hockey game - that's right, people skated on curling ice.  That in itself is fun.

The other half of the ice was dedicated to everything else.  Beer kegs, tables, trays, benches - we used anything and everything we could on the ice!  Yes, I slid down the ice on a table, and on a beer keg.  I used a couple of cookie sheets as skates.  Needless to say, this all tore up the ice pretty effectively, but it is a fun way to end the season.  

Just because my season on the ice is over, however, does not mean that my season here at American Curler is over.  I will be posting several times over the summer - not as frequently as I did since I started this blog in February, but sometimes.  I do also maintain a second blog - Tony's Friendly Observations - that has been relatively dormant since I started this blog.  I discuss a lot of my other interests there. I haven't discussed curling much there, and I am not about to start, but I might start posting there again.  

I hope to find opportunities to curl all summer - anyone who wants to pay my way to San Diego so I curl there is welcome to do so.  I will be upgrading some of my equipment - my shoes, my broom, or both - and you'll be along for the ride.  I will still be on my club's board, and we have a busy summer ahead.  I will take your suggestions as to blog topics.  I will be preparing for the next curling season, both as a fan and as a curler.  Maybe I'll even try to launch a summer club.

I will definitely be back on the ice next fall.  That, you can count on.


  1. Sorry I can't help with actually getting you out here, but if you do ever find yourself in San Diego, please do come by and curl with us!

  2. Relive the final minutes of the compressor's reign in Rochester.


  3. I appreciate your enthusiasm for summer curling, Tony. Maybe next summer I'll join in. This year, the husband and I packed so much curling in from February thru April, I am actually burned out. Of course, when the temp hits the 80s in July, I'm sure I'll be wishing I was playing in an arena somewhere!!
    Can't wait to play with you in the fall!