With Pop Whalen scheduled for reconstruction, Lakes Region Curling makes its move

LRCA members who moved stones, storage bins, and other equipment into storage are, from left: Bob Louttit, Mike Turner, Brad Swain, Rich Masse, Susan Goodwin, Bill Connors, and Bob Patterson. Not shown is Peter Goodwin.

With the approval by Wolfeboro voters of a $6.9 million reconstruction of Pop Whalen Ice and Arts Arena, Lakes Region Curling was put on notice that it had only a short window to find a home for all its paraphernalia — 80 curling stones, six 8-foot storage bins, scoreboards, brooms, push sticks, and all the equipment that it takes to run a curling league for a score of teams.

Plans call for razing of the arena to begin in early April, which meant that, as soon as the last curling matches of the year were over on March 20, organizers and members had to scramble to begin moving literally tons of materials into storage. Luckily, there were plenty of volunteers to make the process go smoothly. Since everything had to fit into a 10-by-10 storage space, the operation had to be carefully choreographed — a place for everything, and everything in its place.

The biggest challenge lay in separating two 16-foot storage bins into more mobile 8-footers. Dave Denby, an early curler who had designed and helped build the bins right  into the arena structure, was called upon to pull off the operation that separated the boxes into separate, stable units.

As the new Pop Whalen nears completion — currently planned for December of this year — everything will need to be moved back. This time, however, the storage bins will sit adjacent to the Zamboni door, eliminating the back-breaking work of the first seven years, carrying each stone over the team benches in order to reach the ice.


Rock of Ageds take Winter league title

Newly assembled from the remnants of dissolving teams, and recovering from a shaky Fall season, Rock of Ageds, consisting of lead Andrea Dudley, second Bill Connors, vice Mike Turner, and skip Rich Masse, pulled together an undefeated season to post the winningest record of the Winter 2022 curling season.

The foursome works as a team outside of LRCA matches, playing in Plymouth State University’s spring league and signing up for PSU’s MUDspiel tournament in early April.

Winter 2022 league champions Rock of Ageds, from left: Rich Masse, Andrea Dudley, Mike Turner, and Bill Connors

A longevity record of sorts

Lakes Region Curling Association has been around since the Fall of 2015, and in that time a number of folks have passed through its ranks. Whole teams have come and gone, while others have re-created themselves time and again as members came and went. Curling can be demanding for those who play it hard, so it’s not surprising that time (and a cold arena) can take their toll on teams and the organization as a whole.

That said, one team has managed to hang together for the entire seven years of the LRCA’s existence. Stone Agers, consisting of Anne Blodget, Judy Crosley, Peter and Susan Goodwin, and Roger Murray, has beaten the odds and remained almost completely unchanged as a team. (An original team member, Carol Carilli, left the team after a few years, but there have been no other changes.)

It seems that there are advantages to longevity. Of late, Stone Agers are perennial challengers for the league title, coming within a whisker in the last two seasons. With a little luck, that could be expected to change soon.

Thge long-lasting Stone Agers, from left: Anne Blodgett, Judy Crosley, Susan Goodwin, Peter Goodwin, and Roger Murray.

 

Lakes Region awaits outcome of arena vote

Under a proposed reconstruction plan, Pop Whalen Ice & Arts Arena would be razed, then rebuilt, with an addition located at the right of the existing structure.

With its Fall 2022 season hanging in the balance, Lakes Region Curling awaits Wolfeboro voters’ verdict on a proposed $6 million reconstruction of Pop Whalen Ice and Arts Center. Article 11 on this year’s Wolfeboro Town Warrant addresses the town’s share of funding for the work.

The article proposes to appropriate the $6.93 million required to raze the current arena and build an expanded structure in its place. If approved, the work is planned for an April-December timeframe, which would preclude a Fall league for the LRCA. That said, the improvements planned for the facility would be well worth it.

The town would actually raise $4.28 million by bond, and the Friends of Pop Whalen, a community organization, would provide $2.7 million towards the project. This public/private partnership follows the model used in recent years to renovate Wolfeboro Town Hall, build the Abenaki ski lodge, and expand Wolfeboro Public Library.

Improvements to Pop Whalen would include dehumidification and improved insulation, bringing an end to the fog and dripping that have so often marred curling matches in October. Also included would be an expanded foyer/viewing area, new locker rooms and meeting spaces, and new spectator seating.

For the LRCA, the changes would provide better access to the ice when moving stones and other equipment and would eliminate the need to use the bench areafor those purposes. In addition, a new, more welcoming facility opens the possibility of hosting curling tournaments in Wolfeboro in the future.

If passed, the warrant article would have no tax impact this year, $0.15 per $1000 of assessed valuation for 2023, and $0.12 per $1000 of assessed valuation in 2024. The measure was recommended by the Board of Selectmen 4-0 and by the Budget Committee 8-0.

Voting on the Town Warrant takes place on Tuesday, March 8.


 

Winter Carnival will feature learn-to-curl clinic


Again this year Wolfeboro Winter Carnival, sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation, will feature a curling open house at Pop Whalen Ice & Arts Center. The session, which is set for Thursday, March 3, at 10 a.m., is free and open to the public.

Members of the Lakes Region Curling Association will be on hand to provide an overview of the game and to offer participants an opportunity to learn scoring and curling skills. Instructions will include an opportunity to try the classic sliding delivery of the curling stone as well as a standing delivery using a specially designed “delivery stick.”

The session is open to everyone aged 18 and over, and pre-registration is required. Register for the curling session from the Town of Wolfeboro web site.

All equipment is provided, but participants are asked to bring a pair of clean-soled shoes – athletic shoes work well — that they can change into at the rink in order to protect the ice surface from parking lot grit and de-icing chemicals. Also, for the health and safety of participants and curling instructors, masks will be required during the event.

For more information about curling, check out this site’s learning page.


 

With the Olympics as a backdrop, LRCA launches Winter 2022 league registration

As curlers worldwide prepare for the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, Lakes Region Curling Association is now accepting registrations for its Winter 2022 league.
 
Running from mid-January to mid-March, the Winter season offers eight weekly curling matches at Pop Whalen Ice Arena in Wolfeboro. Matches take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday evenings.  
 
A learn-to-curl clinic for new curlers will be held in early January, before the Winter league begins.
 
LRCA matches put a premium on friendly competition, sportsmanship, and fun. League play is open to men and women aged 14 or over. No previous experience is required, and participants may join as individuals, with a partner, or as part of a complete team. All equipment is provided, and organizers will assist unaffiliated registrants in finding a team.
 
Curling accommodates a variety of playing styles. While some players prefer to use the traditional crouch and slide delivery for the stone, others employ a walking delivery using a “push stick.”
 
The $195 registration fee defrays the cost of ice time, equipment, and insurance. Registration forms as well as waiver forms  are available for download from this site.
 
The Winter league will accommodate a maximum of eight teams, and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
Sometimes referred to as “chess on ice,” curling originated on the marshes of Scotland in the early 1500s and came to North America with British colonists in the 18th century. First demonstrated at the 1926 Winter Olympics, it became an official Olympic sport in 1998. The coming Olympic competition in Beijing is made more exciting by a 2018 gold medal win by Team USA’s men’s squad, which is returning to defend its title.

For information about the ancient sport of curling in general and Lakes Region Curling Association in particular, visit the remainder of this web site.

Brisk first matches promise a competitive Fall 2021 season for Lakes Region curlers

Curling got off to a brisk start as Lakes Region Curling launched its 2021 Fall season on Oct. 24. The league’s eight teams met for the first time in 19 months after the Winter 2020 season was brought to an abrupt halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The launch followed a successful learn-to-curl session for new curlers and prospective curlers on Oct,. 17.

In a nod to the persisting COVID crisis, curlers followed Pop ‘Whalen Ice Arena regulations and wore masks for most on-ice activities. Teams were also limited to one curler per stone, to avoid having players in close proximity during heavy exertion.

In the end, the eight teams — some sporting the same members they’ve had for years and others newly melded from experienced and novice curlers — were all competitive. Three of four matches were settled with a difference of only two points.

The League Info section of this web site has been set up to record the scores from each week’s matches as well as the resulting standings.

Prospective curlers learn the basics during the Oct. 17 learn-to-curl session

Curlers are returning to a full Fall schedule

After hunkering down for the past year, Lakes Region Curling is up and running for 2021-2022. Registration is now under way for the Association’s Fall 2021 season.

Running from mid-October to mid-December, the Fall season offers eight weekly curling matches at Pop Whalen Ice Arena in Wolfeboro. Matches take place from 5:15 to 7:15 p.m. on Sunday evenings.

 

LRCA matches put a premium on friendly competition, sportsmanship, and fun. League play is open to men and women aged 14 or over. No previous experience is required, and participants may join as individuals, with a partner, or as part of a complete team. All equipment is provided, and organizers will assist unaffiliated registrants in finding a team.

Curling accommodates a variety of playing styles. While some players prefer to use the traditional crouch and slide delivery for the stone, others employ a walking delivery using a “push stick.”

A learn-to-curl clinic for new curlers will be held in early October.

The $195 registration fee defrays the cost of ice time, equipment, and insurance.. Registration forms as well as waiver forms for adults and for minors are available for download from this site.

In a nod to the fact that some things have changed since LRCA members last competed in March 2020, teams in the Fall 2021 league will be limited to four members apiece on the ice for any match, in order to promote better social distancing. The Association will adhere to all state and local health regulations, and LRCA organizers encourage all curlers to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

The Fall league will accommodate a maximum of eight teams, and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sometimes referred to as “chess on ice,” curling originated on the marshes of Scotland in the early 1500s and came to North America with British colonists in the 18th century. First demonstrated at the 1926 Winter Olympics, it became an official Olympic sport in 1998.

For information about the ancient sport of curling in general and Lakes Region Curling Association in particular, visit the remainder of the organization’s web site.


 

Lakes Region sets sights on Fall 2021 return

Lakes Region Curling took a major step towards a return to competition in the coming Fall when it held its recent Annual Meeting. Gathering in a virtual session, members and directors of the organization signaled a strong intention to bring curling matches back to Pop Whalen Ice Arena in Wolfeboro when the facility begins creating ice at the end of the year.

The LRCA’s Winter 2020 season was cut short by the Covid-19-induced shutdown last year, and a prospective Fall 2020 season was called after a spike in cases throughout the Granite State resulted in stringent restrictions on the use of ice arenas. The organization chose to remain dormant for the Winter 2021 season, biding its time for a return to more normal times after widespread vaccinations make the return of group activities safer.

Planning for the Fall curling season will begin in earnest by early summer, with registration opening by late July or early August. For the most current information about LRCA activities, check out the organization’s web site at lakescurlingnh.org.

With a bow to health concerns, the LRCA cancels its Winter 2021 curling league

With news of the threat posed by COVID-19 growing more concerning by the day, the Board of Directors of Lakes Region Curling Association has reluctantly cancelled plans for a Winter 2021 curling season.

The association had already cancelled the Fall 2020 season after rink closings related to the spread of COVID-19 among hockey players. At the time, LRCA organizers hoped that conditions in New Hampshire would improve enough to allow a restart in January. Unfortunately, the spread of the disease has progressed at a rate that makes indoor recreational activities risky at best.

With an eye to protecting the association’s members and in anticipation of the arrival of several promising vaccines in the coming months, board members decided to focus on preserving the LRCA’s resources and planning for a full return to curling in the Fall of 2021.

Any members who allowed the association to hold their Fall registration fee in anticipation of a Winter program will now be reimbursed that fee in the coming weeks.

Note that return of the fees does not cancel membership in the LRCA for the coming year. Anyone who registered for the Fall 2020 program remains a member and will be invited to participate in the association’s Annual Meeting and election of officers in February.

By the time curling begins again next Fall, preparations will be well under way for the 2022 Winter Olympics, putting a spotlight on curling once again.

In the meantime, LRCA members are urged to take all appropriate precautions to stay safe and healthy. Despite the setbacks of the past year, the Board of Directors is committed to repaying the enthusiasm and loyalty of members by returning a robust curling program to the Lakes Region as soon as circumstances allow.

COVID hurdles sink Fall sturling season

The Board of Directors of Lakes Region Curling Association has decided to cancel the planned Fall 2020 sturling season.

The decision came after a two-week ban imposed by the state of New Hampshire on ice arena activity, a subsequent COVID-19 testing requirement for all event participants, and a limited commitment by LRCA members to playing under the new circumstances.

“We did the best we could to make this new league a reality,” LRCA president Rich Masse said, “but, in the end, there were just too many uncertainties for us to risk the health of our members and the resources of the association.”

In late November the board will evaluate the prospects for organizing a Winter league.

While the LRCA had registered enough players for two sessions of sturling on eight Sundays in the Fall, a survey of members, taken after the testing requirement was announced, showed an uneven commitment to proceeding.

“There was a real possibility that we might not have enough players for even a single session,” Masse said.

The association plans to reimburse all registration fees in the near future. However, members have the option of asking that their registration payment be held for a Winter season.

While 2020 saw several impacts by COVID-19 on curling here and around the world, 2021 will see the start of competition leading up to the 2022 Winter Olympics. That activity is expected to bring new attention to this ancient sport — and better days for curlers everywhere.

State order delays start of sturling season

Pop Whalen Ice and Arts Arena will remain closed until at least October 29 under an order from Governor Chris Sununu that prohibits indoor on-ice activities in response to COVID-19 infections among youth hockey players.

On Thursday, October 15, Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order closing all ice rinks in the state of New Hampshire for a period of at least two weeks.

Although the order was prompted by an increase of COVID-19 infections among youth hockey players, the effect has been to shut down all on-ice activity for the two-week period. This includes the start of the LRCA’s scheduled Fall 2020 sturling league.

Consequently, organizers are now planning for a six-week sturling league, with the first matches scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 1. At the moment, there are no other changes to  plans for the league. There will still be a bye week during Thanksgiving weekend, and the last matches of the season will be played on Sunday, Dec. 13.

Rebates for the missed weeks will be offered to registrants at the end of the season.