Curling is known as The Roarin’ Game, partly because of the rumbling sound of heavy granite sliding on pebbled ice.

The game’s cousin, floor curling, is taking on a roar of its own. The wooden “rocks” that have been used in the game for years aren’t being made anymore, and the new version—plastic rocks that glide on ball bearings—definitely rumble as they roll.

Curlers at the Bonnyville Seniors’ Drop-In Centre tried out their new rocks at their season opener October 20. Most agreed the rocks play a bit differently because of the ball-bearing action, and the sound was also new for a game that used to be so quiet. But everyone seemed happy with them.

“Nobody’s complained about the noise,” said Drop-In Centre president Sherry Hennessey. “That was their big fear, that it would be too noisy.

“I’m enjoying the sound. I think it just sounds more active and fun.”

The rocks were donated by Drop-In Centre member Willie McGregor. Cooperators Insurance gave McGregor a $5,000 allowance upon his 100th birthday, to be spent in support of a charity of his choice.

Other clubs in the region have adopted the new rocks, which are available from Floor Curling Canada. Lac La Biche, Fort Kent, and St. Paul have all made the change.

The old flat-bottomed wooden rocks needed a highly-waxed playing surface, requiring clubs to invest considerable effort into polishing floors and then protecting them when the space was used for other activities. The rocks themselves also required occasional maintenance to the sliding surface.

The new plastic rocks can be used on a clean swept floor, eliminating the need for regular stripping, waxing, and polishing.

There are three ball bearings on the underside of each rock. If one of these is damaged, its assembly can be popped out and replaced with a new one.

Floor curling is a popular activity in seniors’ clubs and community halls across the region.

“It’s been a real popular game for years in this building,” Hennessey said. “So much so, the rings are not painted on the floor, they’re tiled into the floor—which pretty much means it’s permanent.”  

They don’t slide, but they still glide! New ball-bearing rocks require less floor maintenance than the old wooden ones. JEFF GAYE