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This article was published 26/1/2017 (1370 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
What do you get when you combine two of Manitoba's favourite pastimes?
Why, it's "crokicurling", of course.
That's right. Take the game of crokinole, a staple in Manitoba homes and cottages, and play it on a sheet of ice using curling rocks instead of those old wooden shooting discs.
That's the brainchild of Liz Wreford and Leanne Muir, whose invention will be, weather permitting, put to the test at The Forks this weekend.
"We're so excited to see people play and see how it's perceived," Muir said. "We've had a lot of questions already on social media, asking when they can sign up."
It all began this summer when Wreford, the principal landscape architect at Public City Architecture, and Muir, a landscape designer at the same firm, were trying to dream up a winter installation for The Forks. After all, their business is developing outdoor space that's engaging to the general population.
Also, they wanted a design with Manitoba flavour. And what says the Keystone province more than crokinole and curling?
"It's the most obvious combination," Muir said.
Wreford and Muir originally designed a much larger structure for the Red River — about the size of an actual curling rink. But officials at the Forks, who approved the concept almost immediately, wanted a smaller version with better access. So construction began just outside the market a few weeks ago.
Unseasonably warm temperatures and initial problems with levelling the surface delayed construction of the octagon-shaped "board". But if temperatures continue to fall, the games could begin this weekend.
Dave Pancoe, special projects manager at The Forks, said crokicurling checks all the boxes: outdoors, accessible, family-friendly, all-ages and active entertainment.
"I think it's the ultimate blend of two Canadian pastimes," Pancoe said. "Everyone's played one or the other."
The crokinole project even has a sponsor: The 2017 Canada Summer Games, to be held in Winnipeg this July and August.
If all goes well, the plan is to make the crokicurling ice board a feature every winter — and have it ready in late November and early December.
But while it's designed for fun, Wreford said the project is no lark. It took hours of planning and design work — not to mention drafting the official list of crokicurling rules.
Yes, crokicurling has actual rules.
"This is very serious for us, in a super playful way," she said.
The best feature, added Muir, is that almost anyone can play. The rocks are junior curling rocks (much smaller and lighter) and the only skill required is to bend down to shoot. No broom or sweeping is required.
It's also free. Participants only have to sign up and leave some identification to unlock the rocks from a nearby locker.
In fact, the game's inventors hope their new sport re-surfaces in other communities.
"We hope it catches on in places across Manitoba," Wreford said. "It doesn't exist anywhere else. And everyone will say, 'Why didn't I think of that?' But we did!"
Randy Turner spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.
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