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Outdoor Equipment

In 2007, SFBACC curled outdoors for a quick TV demonstration for NBC Channel 11 at Downtown Ice under the palm trees. One hack, some stones, and a few brooms and we were in business! Here is a photo of SFBACC's Gabrielle Coleman teaching reporter Bob Redell how to deliver a stone.

For more serious outdoor curling a few more pieces of equipment are needed. Unless the air is cold enough to avoid water on the ice, it's best to play after the sun goes down or have a roof or other shade for the ice. Metal scrapers, snow shovels, and big brooms are good to flatten and clean the ice if a Zamboni is not available. A pebbler is as essential outdoors as for indoors.

Outdoor ice rarely has the houses marked with painted circles. Instead, a variety of portable home-made tee-ringers are used to scribe the ice. A hand drill to mark the center of the button for the tee-ringers can be used on natural ice, but indoor ice often cannot allow a hand drill thanks to the fragile chiller pipes. Thus, usually two people are needed to scribe each house outdoors.

Before indoor keen ice, the length of a sheet was variable depending on how far an average draw-weight stone could be thrown on the ice available. Once the length is determined, curlers scribe out the houses on each sheet and the hog lines. In the old days, the hog line was scratched in using a long nail making a sine wave path because making perfectly straight lines on natural ice can be difficult.

Hacks outdoors were literally hacked into the ice with a chisel. Now it is much easier to use the portable hacks the club uses indoors. California has a few lakes which regularly freeze a few feet thick where chiseling hacks would be safe.

When the ice is very slow due to a water layer, very rough, or has a frosty covering, it is sometimes possible to curl only by using the old style backswing delivery from a foot iron or crampit. The curler stands on those and delivers the stone from a semi-crouching position. In extremely watery or rough conditions, the curler must throw producing a side-to-side wobble - the kiggle-kaggle delivery - to reduce the drag from a water wake or slow ice. That delivery is a major reason why international rules still require a stone to come to rest upright to be in play since beginner kiggle-kaggle deliveries often flip a stone. A modern snowboard could be an excellent foot-iron with the addition of a few metal tabs below to grab the ice as portable hacks do nowadays.

Other equipment useful to have for outdoor curling is a tee-marker, also known as a dolly. These are usually wood dowels, narrow at the top and thicker at the bottom. Skips place them in the center of the house to help throwers see where the house is because a scribed house without paint can be tough to see from the other end of the sheet. An excellent article on dollies can be found here.

Also useful is a set of matching tassels for stones' handles. Outdoor bonspieling traditionally requires each player to bring at least two stones resulting in a mismatched set for each team. Matching tassels are often used by at least one team on each sheet.

The final piece of outdoor curling equipment is quite necessary for natural ice: a sled with warm refreshments! Here is a photo of the classic curling sled from bonspieling on Scotland's Lake of Mentieth in 2010.

For your viewing pleasure!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-ZtCilea8M&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrFr5c-YUo0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ayVdvxqOys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz3VYB85Gbo&feature=related