Monday, November 24, 2014

Arena Curling: A Tribute

Big day in the history of the Triangle Curling Club yesterday: our last ever game on rented arena ice. The club has been around in some form for 19 years, and every single game the club has ever played (at least at home) has involved renting 2-hour blocks of ice time from a local arena. For at least the last 8 of those years, we've curled at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest.

We're still on track to open the new building in January (it'll be here before you know it!), and Sunday marked the last game of the Fall League, our last league on arena ice. I wasn't there, but Amber tells me there was a full ceremony prior to the last game, not unlike what you'd see before the last draw of a bonspiel, except that the bagpipe music was piped in (no pun intended) over the loudspeaker instead of via an actual bagpiper.

Curling on dedicated ice is better than curling on arena ice in almost every way. (Why else would we be going through all this trouble?) But, there are some things I'll miss about curling on arena ice:

- Reading the ice conditions. This is a game in and of itself. Where are the "zamboni lines"? Where are the grooves in the ice which will dictate where the rocks will go? Can you actually throw both turns and get the rock in the house? It's different every week! Kind of frustrating at times, sure, but reading the ice was the #1 challenge for a Skip, and I think I was actually pretty good at it. On arena ice, I can beat a much better Skip head-to-head, if I'm better at reading the ice. I've had a lot of success on arena ice in the seven years I've been with the club. On dedicated ice, not so much. I've always had a harder time calling strategy on dedicated ice, because there are many, many more shots available to you - and to your opponent. If you ask me, "real" curling is a much more complex game than what we play on arena ice.

- Totally dominating dedicated ice clubs at arena ice bonspiels. This kind of follows from the first point. If you've never curled on arena ice before, then you have no idea how to read arena ice. So, when teams who are quite excellent on dedicated ice come down to an arena ice bonspiel and have to play a "home team", they usually struggle. That was always fun. Of course, I'm kind of joking here...I'm more than happy to trade a slight (and perhaps unfair) competitive advantage at arena ice bonspiels for the opportunity to curl on dedicated ice every single week. And as much as dedicated ice teams struggle on arena ice, we've always struggled even more when we go up to compete on dedicated ice. Maybe now when we travel up north to compete, we'll actually stand a chance!

- Friday night curling. As long as we've been with the club, we've always curled on Friday night. (Except for this last season.) Friday night curling was something to look forward to during the week. Hey, it's Friday, and that means CURLING! In the new building, we won't have a Friday night league, so I'll be curling on Monday and Tuesday instead. People generally have other things to do on weekends, so weeknight leagues are more practical, but I'll miss the old Friday night league. Maybe once our club grows and we can sustain more than just a few leagues, we can bring back a Friday night league of some sort.

- Curling in August. Our new building is not going to be open year-round. Maybe 8 months at the most. So, that means no more curling in the summer. Our traditional August "Carolina Classic" bonspiel? Not in August anymore. Now if we want to curl in the summer, we'll have to travel to places like Wilmington and Knoxville. (Although we've already been doing that anyway, because summer bonspiels are fun. Also, see my second point.)

- The GNCC Arena Club Championships. That bulldog trophy? I'll never see it again.

Except for the occasional away bonspiel, my career curling on arena ice is now over. I played 209 games at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest, winning 126. Here's the box score from my last game:

Career game #254: 2014 Fall League - November 9, 2014
(my team: Wright)

End............ 12345678 |TTL
----------------------------
Zwiefel........ 00502011 | 09
Wright......... 24020200 | 10

Should I start my career game count over at #1 in the new building? Because in a way, it's like I'm starting my curling career over. Sure, I do have some experience on dedicated ice, but only 28 games' worth, and none since February 2013. ... On second thought, nah. My first game in the new building will count as game #255. But I will track my stats on dedicated ice separately.

Can't wait!

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