Ice That Don't Quit

What is Dedicated Ice?

Than Tibbetts

Brooklyn Curling Center will be Brooklyn's first dedicated curling ice. Not all ice is the same and curling ice is a very unique surface that can only be maintained at a curling-only space. There are two reasons: the precision and the pebble.

The Precision

Think of ice like grass. 

The manicured greens of a golf course are required for a game where long putts demand precision to just a few inches. Tall grass would hinder the ball, while the bumps and dips it obscures throw off precise trajectories. On the other hand, football is routinely played on fields that are partially baseball infield dirt. It's normal to play baseball, soccer, and football all on the same patch of turf, but putting the 18th hole at the 50-yard line would be a disaster. 

Hockey and most skating activities are like football or soccer. Recreational participants can share the ice and get a great experience as long as a Zamboni goes over the ice now and then. Public hockey rinks usually split ice time between hockey, figure skating, instruction, and open skating.

Curling, on the other hand, needs a level of manicured ice closer to a golf course than a multi-use field. From hog to tee line, a stone must travel 93 feet and land with precision, ideally within a few inches of its intended destination. We don't even completely understand the physics of how it works, but we do know small imperfections in the ice make a big difference. 

Each groove cut by a skate could set a stone off-course, even after the ice resurfacer finishes it job. On top of that, hundreds of free-skaters going in circles around the rink create a "donut effect" that slants the sheets on the sides. 

The Pebble

Whitney leaning against a railing on a downtown
          street

Volunteers apply the "pebble" — fine droplets of water — to the surface of the ice before each game of curling.



If you're near a patch of frozen pond or other body of water, go out and try to slide a really heavy rock over it.

Go ahead, we'll wait. Not so easy, was it?

That's because a curling stone isn't just rock on ice. It's polished granite on the top of tiny "pebbles" of ice on top of a sheet of ice. Those pebbles are applied by a specialized device that rains down tiny water droplets that freeze in place. The smooth stone makes contact only with the top of the pebble, reducing the surface area of the stone in direct contact with the ice, thus reducing friction. 

Gliding on pebble, a polished, 42-pound curling stone can travel a lot farther than just any rock. However, like flat and even ice, consistent pebbling is necessary for casual curlers to improve and great curlers to shine. On shared ice, volunteers use "pebble cans" to apply pebble on the ice after a zamboni run. On dedicated ice, ice technicians have more time to pebble the ice. They also use a specialized piece of equipment called a "nipper" to make the pebble a uniform height.

The Point

In New York City, space is precious, whether it's a seat at a coffee shop or ice for recreation. Though Brooklyn's curlers do their best, conditions are poor. The Lakeside facility is semi-exposed, which means humidity, rain, and snow can make curling impossible.

Whitney leaning against a railing on a downtown
          street

At first, the snow squall was a humorous novelty, but it soon shut down curling for the evening. Stones were impossible to throw the length of the ice, and the surface became dangerously slippery for the players with a layer of snow on the ice.



Even in ideal weather, the heavy use from skaters makes the game unpredictable and frustrating to curlers who have played on dedicated ice before. It is a testament to the power of the sport and to volunteerism that so many people manage to play in the conditions they do. 

Brooklyn Curling Center will have dedicated curling ice maintained by expert technicians who understand the sport. Club members and visitors can expect world-class instruction and competition in a venue designed specifically for curling. Ideal conditions for curling mean ideal conditions for attracting regular players, corporate events, and visitors from around the world.

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