A decade ago, Ray Sidney conquered the Internet as a Google software engineer. Now, the South Shore philanthropist is tackling curling.
Sidney, who has donated millions to various South Shore organizations over the years, has been funding Lake Tahoe Epic Curling, a club that became official earlier this year.
“We decided to actually go legit as it were,” he said Wednesday.
The club will host its first tournament at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena on Saturday. About 40 people — split into teams of four — are expected to participate in the event, with some teams coming from as far away as San Francisco and Los Angeles.
For Sidney, an interest in the sport developed in 2010 after he bought his first set of curling stones, he said. The local grew up playing shuffleboard and winter sports in Connecticut, so sliding a rock across the ice seemed like a good fit.
“I very much enjoy it,” Sidney said.
Curling is a game played on ice by two teams of four. It involves sliding a 40-pound piece of polished granite into four rings, while teammates sweep the ice in front of the stone with brooms.
The stones that stop closest to the middle of the rings receive a point.
Sidney said curling requires a heavy amount of skill and precision. But it can also provide exercise.
“If you’re sweeping right,” he said, “it’s pretty rigorous exercise. It tires you out.”
Club member Mike Flynn said membership has been building since LTEC’s inception.
““Most of the people who try it keep coming back,” he said. “It’s an interesting sport that’s played by everyone from 8 to 80.”
“You get that one good shot,” Flynn added, “and suddenly you’re hooked and want to come back and get another good shot.”
One of the draws to curling for Flynn is the strong show of sportsmanship, he said. Everyone is very competitive, but nobody cheers for someone to have a bad shot.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Flynn said. “It’s not cutthroat.”
Teams can sign up for Saturday’s tournament, or “bonspiel,” by going to tahoecurling.com. Flynn said previous curling experience is required.