Cardrona Scottish stones set for highland fling

Cardrona Curling Club president John Harridge (left) and secretary-treasurer Roger Gardiner with...
Cardrona Curling Club president John Harridge (left) and secretary-treasurer Roger Gardiner with their newly acquired stones. Photo by Mark Price.
With the weather in the lowlands inconsistently cold this winter, curlers have had to look to the highlands.

And it is the newby Cardrona Curling Club that has come up with the ice.

The club will be holding a curling event on the Pisa Range on Sunday and expects 50 or more curlers from around the province to attend.

However, the event is not being called a ''bonspiel''.

''It would be wrong, and it wouldn't be appropriate to refer to it as a bonspiel,'' Cardrona club secretary-treasurer Roger Gardiner told the Otago Daily Times this week.

A traditional bonspiel is more a command to curlers to down tools and pick up curling stones for two days, he said.

The club had simply invited curlers to take part and the formalities - such as the curling court where newcomers are admitted to the fraternity - will be absent.

However, one tradition retained will be the availability to competitors of the occasional dram or two of single malt.

Attempts to call a bonspiel in Otago have been thwarted by mild temperatures, and even the Cardrona club's outdoor rink, formed three years ago in one of the valley's shadiest nooks, has had insufficient ice for competition.

Mr Gardiner said the club was invited last year to use an ice rink ''almost the size of a rugby field'' on the Pisa Range where the Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground tests cars and tyres in winter conditions.

Although the ice was a different, less durable type than was ideal for curling, cold temperatures on Sunday should allow a few hours of competition.

''It's a nice day out. If the ice is good it just becomes an exceptional day out.

''But it's a good day no matter what.''

The Cardrona Club is keen to try out 28 curling stones recently bought from a Scottish dealer.

One has the date 1865 engraved on its handle and all include information about the origin of the granite from which they are made.

Several are from the island of Ailsa Craig, off the Scottish coast.

Mr Gardiner said the stones, which cost $9000, would remain the property of the club, including two he had purchased personally.

These, he said, would be engraved with his name to give curlers of the next century something to puzzle over.

The club started out three years ago with a few concrete stones made by Mr Harridge.

It graduated to Chinese-made stones which are more suitable for indoor curling and now has the real McCoy.

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