Curling: Competition comes naturally to curlers

Competition for the Baxter Cup was hot yesterday, despite the frozen surroundings. More than 100...
Competition for the Baxter Cup was hot yesterday, despite the frozen surroundings. More than 100 curlers from 13 clubs within the Naseby Curling Council answered the call to contest the trophy. Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
Smiles stayed on the faces of curlers yesterday as competition heated up for a silver cup believed to be one of the country's oldest sporting trophies.

Thirteen clubs from within the Naseby Curling Council vied for the Baxter Trophy on natural ice at Naseby's Centennial rink, and the "home club" - Otago Central - was the winner.

Competition started at 8.30am, when the temperature was -5degC, but the afternoon warmed up to about 7degC.

The Otago Central club, based at Naseby, had four wins from four games and scored 92 points, just ahead of Ranfurly, which also managed four from four, but finished with 88 points.

Naseby council president Gavan Herlihy described the trophy as the premier crampit (outdoor) trophy.

"As well as being the oldest trophy, it's the most prestigious, in the curlers' eyes," he said.

The council has 18 member clubs, from Auckland through to the Maniototo, and more than 100 curlers answered the call to take part in the Baxter Cup competition, which is played only on natural ice.

"That's a very good turnout, in view of the curlers having been on the ice on Wednesday and Thursday for the national bonspiel as well. It's been a big week," Herlihy said.

The ice was "brilliant" and there were no concerns about anyone falling through.

"The water here is very shallow and you'd be lucky to get your knees wet if you went through."

The Baxter Cup was first contested in 1884.

The trophy was donated to the Dunedin Curling Club by David Baxter, a founding member of the club who arrived in New Zealand in 1856 from Blairgrove, Perthshire.

Originally, it was the Dunedin club's points trophy.

When a lack of ice prompted the club to disband in 1895, the Baxter Cup was passed on to other Naseby clubs and later to the council as an annual interclub trophy.

The last time it was contested was 2007, when it was won by the Garibaldi Curling Club, which is based at Wedderburn.

Wayne Weir, of Ranfurly, was a member of the winning Garibaldi team.

Weir was competing yesterday in an "all-Weir " team, made up of himself, son Matt (21), and daughters Kelly (23) and Stacey (26).

His son had been a member of the national under-21 team.

The family team was going well but the overall score for the defending champion would depend on how the other Garibaldi team fared, he said.


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