Alexandra’s new curling rink is expected to be a boon for the sport across Central Otago and potentially internationally.
IceInLine opened its new indoor curling rink to the public last weekend, giving people a chance to try their hand at the sport and ultimately continue it at a competitive level.
New Zealand Curling past president Bruce Kissel said the new rink had the potential to be a starting point for people who want to represent New Zealand on the international stage.
‘‘If we can get them started on this ice then hopefully we might get some New Zealand champs out of it — that’s what we hope for.’’
The World Curling Federation agreed to help fund the project with an interest free loan of $100,000, provided the new lanes were used for curling only.
Local businesses were also acting behind the scenes and contributed a combined $80,000 in products and services to help complete the project.
‘‘We were amazed at how the community got behind it.’’
The international component of the build was complicated, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced planned visits from Canadian engineers to be cancelled and consultation to be held online.
‘‘There was a lot of Zoom meetings, emails and a lot of working it out for ourselves on how things go and not go.’’
Now people are encouraged to make use of the facility.
‘‘It’s something in the community to be used.
‘‘It’s an asset and like anything, if assets don’t get used [the community] will lose them.’’
That patronage would help pay the bills and could contribute to expansion of the facility in the future, he said.
The addition of the indoor rink meant expanding the types of curling offered from crampet, which is traditionally played outside, to hack curling, which could now be part of the repertoire.
Be warned — dropping the 18kg Scottish-made stone on ice indoors is a no-no.
Three veteran curlers who had stopped playing were pleased to find they would be able to get back on the ice with the assistance of a ‘‘stick’’, which allows them to push a stone without having to crouch.
There is a sustainable energy component to the new rink, which joins the existing rink, in acting as a heat transfer system for Alexandra Pool.
The new rink will complement the outdoor rink, which is used for curling, ice hockey and ice skating.
In the future, the organisation was looking at covering the original rink with a roof to make its use more flexible; being able to operate in bad weather, for example.
New Zealand Curling immediate past president Sam Inder, who is also a Maniototo Curling International board member, said the new facility would boost the sport.
‘‘It will be complementary to the work we are doing here in Naseby.’’
IceInLine chairman Murray Miller said the open day on Sunday was a ‘‘huge success’’, attracting a wide range of people.
‘‘At the open day, we had people who had curled overseas that came in. We’ve had young people that realised now they can do it.
‘‘It’s so much easier indoors — it’s so much easier to get a stone down, it’s just going to grow the sport.’’
The season will also last longer.
Mr Miller said it was not known exactly how much longer, but at this stage it would be ‘‘as much as we want’’.
‘‘It depends on demand.
‘‘At this stage we are looking to stay open until at least Blossom Festival weekend, but after that we’ll just see how it goes.’’