Polystyrene trial to form curling surface

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Polystyrene is being trialled to see if it would make a suitable iced area for curling in Lowburn.

Lowburn Curling Club president Gordon Stewart said the club usually used an irrigation dam near Lowburn for its sport.

However, as it had often not been sufficiently cold to create enough thick ice on the dam for the past couple of years, club members had created a trial area of 2m x 2m on the dam’s bank.

The trial plot is lined with polystyrene, and then covered with 8cm to 10cm of water.

Mr Stewart said the polystyrene was used as insulation, so water could freeze more easily and then stay frozen longer.

Some ice rinks use the same principle.

If the trial worked, they then hoped to use the technique on a bigger scale on the dam – with the farmer’s permission – and then to realign the pond.

That meant the club would be more likely to be able to guarantee ice for games.

The club marked its 50th anniversary last Saturday at the Alexandra IceInLine Rink, and invited Alexandra, Arrowtown, Cardrona, Manorburn and Poolburn curling clubs to play against five Lowburn teams, as part of the birthday celebrations.

Mr Stewart said they booked the Alexandra rink to guarantee they would have ice on the day.

“It was a lot of fun and friendship, which is probably the main thing that curling is all about,” he said.

Each team played three games which determined the eventual winners, a Lowburn team and Poolburn team winning the titles.

“It was more of a friendly get-together.”

The club hosted a celebratory meal that evening at a restaurant, which was attended by nearly 100 people.

“That went really well and we had a lot of tales to tell.

“We appreciate everyone making the effort to come to dinner.

“We had eight or nine clubs represented from around Central Otago.”

Mr Stewart said Lowburn was the first club in the country to have more than 20 members and the first to accept women.

It also won the 2007 bonspiel, curling played on natural ice at the Idaburn Dam.

He said once the call went out, teams from around the country had 36 hours to get to the dam to play – the only place the game was still played on natural ice.

“It is an Otago tradition,” he said.

They also found some trophies that had been imported from Scotland years ago, and had them engraved to mark the 50th anniversary.

The trophies were presented at the dinner.

The next thing club members want is for some ice to form.

“We have not had ice for two years and we need some serious -3degC frosts.

“We need snow to drop the temperatures and some nice clear days to have any chance of getting some ice,” Mr Stewart said.