1/16/14 meeting: The fine art of curling

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (13): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Murray Forth, Deb Rodriguez, A.J. Amato, Dick Drumm, Stewart Wagner, Rommel Tolentino, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Jim Mendrysa, Charlie Foote. (One reservation no-show.)

Guests (3): Kevin Ryan, Maggie Forth, Jeremy Forth.


Program: The fine art of curling


Kevin Ryan of the Albany Curlingn Ckub shows members the granite stone used in the sport.
Kevin Ryan of the Albany Curling Club shows members the 40-pound Scottish granite stone used in the sport.

With the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, interest will increase in some sports most of us don’t watch with any regularity. Curling is one of them, although it is a very popular participant sport in the Capital Region.

With that in mind, SRC member Terry Brewer, an aspiring curler, invited Albany Curling Club President Kevin Ryan to present an after-dinner program explaining the fine art of the sport that emerged from Scotland in the 1500s.

Kevin said the ACC has 157 members at various levels of expertise. The price of membership for the four-month curling season is $495, with the club supplying all equipment as well as instructions for newcomers.

The public also is welcome to visit the club’s “house” — a two-sheet (double rinks 155 feet in length) facility at 117 McKown Road, just off Western Avenue — to observe activities on February 15.

Like any sport, curling has its own language: The matches are known as “bonspiels,” the captain of each four-person team is the “skip,” and the center of a set of concentric circles the curlers try to hit with the stones is called the “button.”

The stones, which weigh 38 to 42 pounds and cost as much as $12,000 to $15,000 per set, are made in Scotland from native granite. However, after years of wear they can be restored elsewhere, especially by Canadian companies that offer such services.

Curlers slide the stones along the ice by using handles anchored into the discs, attempting to come closest to, or actually in, the “button.” Kevin and Terry emphasized the strategy involved in placing the stones, sweeping their path to change the speed, and blocking opponents’ stones with one’s own shots.

Kevin noted that curling ice is several degrees colder than hockey ice, and rather than having a Zamboni to resurface the ice, a plow-like device is used to replane it. The surface is covered in tiny rises in the ice on which the stones actually travel.

A short video featuring male and female Canadian Olympic-caliber curlers helped underscore the points made by Kevin and Terry.


Activities/Business:

• President April informed the club that she and Vice President Bill had completed the packets for the “Columbia Turnpike, You’ve Got Mail” outreach effort. Just under 100 businesses of all sorts located on Columbia Turnpike will receive a three-page letter explaining what Rotary is, the benefits to the businesses and the community of belonging to Rotary, and an invitation to attend a dinner as our guest. Also included in the mailing were flyers for the January 26 “Bowl Over Polio” fundraiser.

• Speaking of “Bowl Over Polio,” event coordinator Murray Forth informed the club that the facility hosting it for the third consecutive year had been purchased by a company that is changing its name from Spare Time to the East Greenbush Bowling Center. He said the new owners told him they are very interested in continuing to partner with the SRC Club on the annual event.

• Murray said he had spoken with the timing company the club had hired last year for the Rotary Run. He thinks the technical problems that happened last year have been worked to avoid a repetition. He, Peter Brown and Bobby Hammond of the school district will meet with the timing company to iron out any final details for the May 18 competition. We also will be asking Boy Scout Troop 41, which we help sponsor, for some volunteer assistance.

• Jim Leyhane said our 3rd annual CPR Certification Course will be held at Maple Hill High School on a date in March to be determined. Top Form again will work with the club on the project. He expects a larger attendance than last year because people certified in the original course will need their two-year recertification.

• The club board met in a session after the regular meeting. It agreed to make a $500 grant to Little Brook Farm to support local schools’ field trips to the Columbia County equine facility. It also was agreed that Bill Dowd would craft a letter to be sent to high schools in our area (Columbia, Maple Hill, Rensselaer, Troy, Lansingburgh, etc.) seeking seniors to submit essays on a Rotary topic. Two winners, one male and one female, would each be awarded a $500 scholarship from the club, with the winning essays selected by a club committee to be appointed.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, January 23, at Quigley’s. Charlie Foote will present the program.


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