Arena Curling Ice Setup

The South Shore Curling Club is an arena curling club, which means we don’t have a dedicated curling facility and instead share our ice with hockey players and ice skaters. This means we need to set up our ice for curling each time we use it.

We’ve been asked about how we set up our curling ice by other arena clubs wondering about our methods, new arena clubs wanting to know what to do, as well as clubs with dedicated ice who are surprised to hear what we have to do to curl.

We’ve put together a short video explaining our setup process…enjoy!


If you’re just looking for a list of what we do, here you go:

  1. After the hockey game is done, the Zamboni takes to the ice to do a dry cut. After the Zamboni does the outside edge (but is still doing the middle area — we don’t have time to lose!) we start bringing our stones out of storage (which are boxes along the outside of the rink), wiping them on a chamois to remove any dirt or debris.
    carrying stones
  2. Plastic sheets are put down on the ice and our stones are placed on them to cool — the plastic prevents the stones from melting into the ice and keeps the granite from soaking up any moisture.
    cooling the stones on plastic
  3. Once the Zamboni is done, a couple of people sweep the ice with large brooms to pick up any frost and ice left by the Zamboni.
    sweeping the ice
  4. Houses are drawn using large wooden beam compasses and extra-large red and blue Sharpie Magnum permanent markers. (The tee lines are already on our rink with markers for the centers of the houses.)
    drawing the house
  5. Hack lines are measured and marked using the beam compass.
    marking the hack line
  6. Drawn houses are frozen by spraying them with water, which helps prevent them from disappearing during the game from sweeping and sliding on the ink.
    sealing the house
  7. While the houses are being drawn and frozen, the hacks are heated with a propane torch and melted onto the ice*. People stand on the hacks to make sure they are secure.
    heating the hack installing the hack
  8. The ice is pebbled, first with a fine spray and then a medium one.
    pebbling the ice
  9. Two people then nip the ice by dragging stones using a wide wooden frame with a rope.
    nipping the ice
  10. The final touches are made — placing cones to separate the sheets, setting up scoreboards, and arranging the rocks for each sheet.
    final setup

We try to do as many of the steps concurrently as possible to save time, and the more people that help the quicker we can set up and get curling. In general, we can have our five sheets set up and ready to go in about 20-25 minutes.

Then we’re (finally) ready to curl!
finally — curling!

* A tip from the Ocean State Club for those that do not want to use a torch for installing the hacks: If you have access to hot water use a plastic cooler big enough to hold a hack: put a few inches of hot water in the cooler, dip the hack for 15-20 seconds, and the hack will melt in nicely.↩︎