Another season has come to a close. The ice is removed, the scraper is given a break, the pebble can is emptied and the ice maker can take a well-deserved rest. But before we dust off the golf clubs, let’s make sure that the rocks have been properly stored for the summer.
One of the largest investments a club makes is in its curling stones and without them there wouldn’t be a game to be played. It is important that rocks are properly stored and inspected each year for damage and wear to ensure many more years of use.
First, we want to make sure the rocks are stored so they are not damaged in any way when not in use, especially in a multi-use facility where various other sports take place in the curling facility. I can’t remember how many times I have been in a club in the summer and found curling stones used to prop a door open or as weights for holding something down. We want to make sure the stones are stored in a dry area where the public cannot easily access them.
The rocks should be stored on wood, carpet or rubber, either on their side or lying flat. It is a good idea to loosen the handles at the end of each year, and you can also give the handles a quarter turn. Loosening and turning the handles changes the area that strikes the ice first so the rock’s surface doesn’t wear down. The wearing of the rocks is not as prevalent as it was in the past now that more people have gone to the no-lift delivery.
Please make sure you have enough insurance to cover the replacement cost of your stones in case something happens to them. Replacement costs are now somewhere between $8,000 to $12,000 a sheet depending on the type of stones that you purchase.
One of the biggest problems we now see with stones is the wearing of striking bands. It is important to address this problem before the band deteriorates too far. The worse they get, the more material will have to be removed. This will change the weight of your rocks and, as they get lighter, they will not react as well as they should. To find out if your rocks need maintenance, please contact a CCA Ice Technician who can help you get in touch with the right people to assess the condition of your rocks.
Curling stones are no different from any other piece of equipment in that they require regular maintenance and proper storage when not in use.
By Jamie Bourassa, the Canadian Curling Association’s Head Ice Technician