Curlers cross fingers for more ice

The national bonspiel held at Idaburn in 2012. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
The national bonspiel held at Idaburn in 2012. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
There is enough to get your skates on, but not enough to get your stones ready. Ice is making its presence felt in Central Otago but keen curlers are hoping for more.

A lengthy series of frosts, preferably eight nights where the temperature plummets to minus 10degC, is on the wish list of the district's curlers, who dream about a national bonspiel being staged this year on the Idaburn dam.

Idaburn ice master Robert Rutherford, of Oturehua, said a series of frosts at that level for more than a week would mean the prospect of a national curling tournament on natural ice could be considered - ''but we're a fair way off that now, so it's looking less likely at this stage''. '

'In the past, it's been the end of July before we've held them, and the Idaburn isn't even completely covered in ice yet.''

The last national bonspiel was held in 2012 and it was the fourth such event in 11 years.

Mr Rutherford said 11cm-15cm of ice was needed for a bonspiel and the more teams were involved, the thicker the ice needed to be, so at least 15cm was required to cater for a national event.

Despite a week of hard frosts, the Manorburn Dam near Alexandra was sporting only 2.5cm-5cm of ice and 11cm was needed to host a mini-bonspiel, Manorburn ice master Bert Kemp, of Alexandra, said. Earlier this week he was skating on the Manorburn but he was doubtful whether the ice would stay around long enough to benefit curlers.

''The forecast isn't looking so good and we'd need that ice to build up more before we could curl on it.''

In Naseby, the cold snap meant the Naseby Ice Luge could open for the season. The 360m luge track was completed next to the outdoor Maniototo Ice Rink and the indoor Maniototo Curling International curling rink in 2008. This year's opening date is one of the latest in the seven years the luge has been operating.

New Zealand Olympic Luge Association president Geoff Balme said the track had opened just in time for the week-long luge camp held as part of the school holiday activities at the facility. Fourteen people had registered for that camp and a similar number for next week's ice camp, which involved luge, curling and ice skating.

The national luge championships are set down to be held on Sunday ''but we'll be playing that by ear, depending on the weather conditions'', Mr Balme said.

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