SARANAC LAKE - The sport of indoor curling will make its return to the village next month after a long absence.
The Lake Placid Curling Club has booked ice time at the Saranac Lake Civic Center where it plans to hold regular curling sessions on Sunday afternoons. The group previously used the ice of the Lake Placid Olympic Center.
"We are excited and delighted to announce that we are bringing the sport of curling back to Saranac Lake after a 70-year hiatus," club member Amber McKernan told the village board Monday night.
A curler sends a stone up the ice during a curling demonstration on Lake Flower during last year’s Winter Carnival.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)
Curling, which originated in Scotland in the 1500s, has a long history in Saranac Lake. Its roots here date back to at least 1897 when there were two curling clubs, the Pontiac Bay Curling Club and the Pines Curling Club, according to the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki website. They curled on Lake Flower and Moody Pond.
The two clubs later merged to form the Saranac Lake Curling Club, which initially curled in a rink on the shore of Lake Flower. In 1931, a new curling rink was built in a large concrete building off of River Street that was designed by architect William Distin. Curling was played on natural indoor ice with refrigeration provided by the outdoor temperatures.
The curling club closed in 1943 due to "wartime economic conditions," according to the Wiki site. The rink, which still stands, was acquired by Madden's Transfer and Storage.
The Lake Placid Curling Club was formed in 1981. It averages roughly 35 members who participate in local league play and travel to other curling clubs to compete in bonspiels or curling tournaments.
McKernan said the Sunday afternoon sessions in Saranac Lake should be more convenient for people interested in the sport. The club previously played in the Olympic Center on Sunday nights.
"We're going to be able to reach a much larger population and demographic," she said. "Curling is a multi-generational sport. We say you can play curling from 8 to 80, and beyond. You don't need to be horribly athletic. I am not, and this is going to be my 12th season curling."
The club is planning two "Learn to Curl" sessions from 3:15 to 6:15 p.m. on Oct. 20 and 27 at the civic center.
"Once we teach you how to curl, you can join the club," McKernan said. "The fee will be deducted from membership. You'll be put on a team. We have leagues and trophies and pins, and we all have a really good time."
Mayor Clyde Rabideau asked if the group plans to change its name to the Saranac Lake Curling Club.
McKernan said the club is incorporated as a non-profit under the name Lake Placid Curling Club and is affiliated with national curling organizations under that same name.
"In order for us to change our name, we would need to go through certain channels," she said. "I believe that probably would happen, but not next week."
Rabideau congratulated the group.
"It's pretty exciting," he said. "It's good to have you back. We wish you the best of luck."
For more information on the curling club, visit lakeplacidcurling.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-327-3223.