Curling rocks: New rink opens on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Curlers, local or visiting, no longer have to share the ice with hockey players and skaters thanks to the opening of Lake Tahoe Epic Curling’s own rink.
Curling is a Scottish sport played on ice. Players, usually on a team of two or four, slide a granite rock across the ice, while other players sweep the ice with brooms to restrict friction and keep the stone moving straight.
The South Lake Tahoe curling club was established in 2011 and up until May of 2019, they operated out of the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena.
However, ice used by hockey and skating isn’t compatible with curling.
“Cuts from skates could change the direction the rock goes, there is less predictability with shots,” Adam Michalski, club Treasurer said.
While the club was grateful to the ice arena for giving them ice time, they are excited to have more control of the ice quality.
Michalski said the club wanted to move for several years but was looking in Stateline and South Lake for the perfect spot. About a year ago, space below the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency opened up.
“Somethings just have to be in alignment,” club president Edie Hazard said.
When location opened up, club member Rick Gardner used his company, Gardner Construction to help build the new spot and long-time member Ray Sidney donated the money to make it happen.
Many other members donated time and talents to help bring the dream to fruition.
Michalski is impressed with how quickly they were able to make it happen.
In addition to two curling sheets, the space also includes a clubhouse including a warm room with a bar and tables and locker rooms.
Now that the space is ready, the club is now working to expand membership and events.
The rink is membership only, and to become a member, people have to have curling experience and pay a $99 a year fee.
For those who don’t have experience, the club offers frequent “Learn to Curl” workshops for $30.
Why should someone learn to curl?
“All ages can curl together,” Hazard said. “It is a really good way to meet people in a relaxed environment.”
There aren’t many places were beginners can compete with olympic athletes but at Lake Tahoe Epic Curling, they can.
Hazard competed in the 1998 olympics for Great Britain but Michalski, who picked up curling in 2014, didn’t know Hazard was an Olympian until six months after he started playing with her.
That may speak to Hazard’s modesty but it also speaks to the relaxed nature of the sport.
“Its a social sport, we’re competitive but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Michalski said. “The winners buy the losers beer so even if you lose, you win.”
Because its a team sport that requires communication, Hazard said the sport is perfect for team building.
The club regularly hosts corporate parties that include learning to curl.
In addition to corporate parties, the club often rents their space to other curling clubs.
“We’re the only location in Northern Nevada or California that’s dedicated just to curling,” Michalski said.
But even if someone isn’t interested in learning to curl themselves, the club welcomes anyone to come out and watch.
The rink is open Tuesdays at 10 a.m. for several hours of open ice and Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. for open ice.
To find out more about the club and their learn to curl opportunities, visit laketahoecurling.com or Lake Tahoe Epic Curling on Facebook.