The victorious team and the stones that made history (l-r): Emily Sandwith, Laura Beever (Skip), Rhys Phillips (Vice-skip), Hilary Hogg.
There was delight for a team of Curlers at Deeside Ice Rink this week as they managed to break a record for the sport in Wales. Laura Beever and her Alyn Valley Atomic team were already well in control of their match when they achieved one of the rarest feats in the sport, an “Eight-Ender”.
An “Eight-Ender” is when a team manages to get a perfect score in a single end, with all eight of their stones closer to the centre of the house than any of their opponents. They are said to be rarer than a hole-in-one in golf.
Curling, more often associated with Scotland, has been played in Wales since 1974. The sport is a cross between the tactics of chess and the scoring of crown-green-bowls – but all on an ice-rink and never using skates.
The winter sport of curling has now been played at Flintshire’s Deeside Ice Rink for 40 years, but according to club officials this is the first time any team has managed to score eight in a single end.
It was a particularly good night for Laura, who only last month travelled to Denmark to represent Wales at the European Mixed Curling Championships.
Laura, who is a resident of Deeside, said: “My team were playing really well, and our opponents weren’t having the easiest night, but I still didn’t expect to be picking up an Eight-Ender. In the end, we were a little lucky, as they had the final stone and could have stopped us scoring at all, but their skip’s shot didn’t quite work out.
The stones that ended the 40-year wait for an 8-ender in Wales
“I knew it was unusual, but it wasn’t until after the game that I knew for certain that it was the first Eight-Ender in Wales. I barely slept the night after, I was on such an adrenaline rush.”
The milestone came just a week before another important point for the history of curling in Wales. With Deeside Ice Rink available only one day per week, it has been difficult to fit in all the people who wanted to play, especially after the Winter Olympics earlier this year. Plans for a dedicated curling rink at Deeside are now in the final stages of preparation, and are due to be presented to the players this Monday. It is hoped that by September 2015, it will be possible to play the sport on every day of the week, rather than just Mondays.
Adrian Meikle, President of the Welsh Curling Association, said: “We’ve had people wanting to try curling at Deeside from all across the UK, and we just don’t have enough ice time to fit everybody in. A curling rink is planned for Cardiff, however we still need to cater for more people, as we are currently the only place in Wales that does Curling: the nearest alternatives are in Scotland or Kent.
“Assuming the plans for our own rink go ahead, it will be nice to have had an Eight-Ender on the old rink first, and it’s even more significant that it’s happened on our 40th anniversary.”