More than a ton of granite comes to Grand ForksGRAND FORKS — If only some of the rocks farmers must pick from their fields each spring could be this valuable, this handsome, worth this effort.
By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — If only some of the rocks farmers must pick from their fields each spring could be this valuable, this handsome, worth this effort.
And come with handles.
Eighty matched granite curling stones arrived Thursday in Ralph Engelstad Arena, more than a ton and a half of sculpted and polished granite quarried from the ocean floor off Scotland and matched to within a dirt speck of difference in weight.
They were sent by the World Curling Federation for the 2008 Men’s World Curling Championship on April 5-13 in Grand Forks.
Numbered and color-coded and packed in cases of heavy wood, the five 16-stone sets of 42-pound rocks came by ocean freighter from Scotland to Montreal, Canada. They proceeded by ship through the Great Lakes to Chicago, then traveled by truck to the Minneapolis area, where U.S. Customs took note of them and their assigned value — 20,800 British pounds, or more than $41,200 — before allowing the truck to complete its journey to Grand Forks.
No bagpipers were on hand to herald the event, but arena managers treated it with solemnity, though none of them wore kilts or waved a broom.
“The arrival of the stones is the start of our sprint to the finish,” said Jody Hodgson, the arena’s general manager and, being Canadian-born, a man versed (if not actually experienced) in the intricacies of hack, hog line, draw weight and the four-foot.
The stones’ coming means The Ralph’s building engineers can begin converting it from a hockey arena to the world’s curling stage. To that end, the rocks were accompanied by overhead cameras, scaffolding, hack plates, a championship trophy, carpeting and the flags of Germany, Australia, Canada, Norway, China, the Czech Republic and other countries sending teams to compete for the world title.
The rocks will stay in their boxes in a secured area until they go onto the ice, said Charlie Muus, facilities director, and their handles will be fitted with electronic sensors that will combine with magnetic strips on the ice to signal a hog line violation, or fault.
“They’ll stay on the ice throughout the tournament, so they stay cold,” Muus said, and then they’ll be packed back into the wooden crates and sent by truck and ocean freighter back to Scotland, to be stored until next the world’s curling elites gather.
The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.