The call goes out for our annual Natural Ice curling fixture at Tekapo, a village at the end of an alpine lake. Although the lake hasn’t frozen sufficiently for a number of years, the local curling club is fortunate enough to have curling for most of the season. Artificial ice is available and supported throughout. When natural ice forms later in the winter however, several seasoned, passionate and dedicated outdoor curlers emerge to play, party and challenge anyone that dares, for the endurance of the ice. A purpose built curling rink was built by highly innovative and obsessed outdoor curlers in an ideal sheltered place on the edge of town. It is proving to be one of the most reliable outdoor rinks and holding ice for the longest in our outdoor curling circles.
Tekapo curling has been around for many years, but is not as old as the clubs further south in Central Otago, some dating back 150 years. A trend in temperature shifts over that time has made outdoor curling on natural ice more unreliable in that region as opposed to the higher altitude and more desert climate of Tekapo. Tekapo curling club has become very respected throughout our curling fraternity and now hosts several clubs from further south including my own. Respected they may be, but they are not necessarily without deviousness.
A Six Hour Trip
Four thirty am and loaded with curling stones, extra clothing, brooms, curling stones and refreshments, I swing in to pick up the rest of my team an hour north and make our way to Tekapo. We arrive to a welcome from old rivals, who over the years have failed to hold the trophy and light the cigars. Early drinks were bestowed upon us although only indulging themselves very moderately. The ice played very well and being our first match on outdoor ice we were a little rusty at the beginning. A great day curling among three clubs however came to a close with a bar-b-que and more drinks on offer. The two local clubs, who would normally stay and socialise, disappeared leaving us to our devices. Eight curlers away from home for three days weren’t quite ready to call it quits, called into the local establishment to party a little more. Quite a lot more. Lethargy the following morning wasn’t dispelled with a hearty breakfast as we were led to believe.
We prefer to use bad luck as reason for bad performance, but I tend to believe our decisive losses on the second day could be attributed to something like misbehaviour the night before. Anyway another grand day competing on the ice ending with drinks and BBQ disclosed my teams miserable scores, losing more than we won. It was then our host team, very keen to get their hands on the trophy, alleged the first days curling was a friendly match and didn’t count in the scoring for the trophy. Our accusations of deviousness fell on deaf ears, so the trophy was handed over with loud applause to our mischievously happy looking super friendly and respected hosts. Lots more drinks were shared, after all we had to drown our sorrows.