Dave and Natal Laycock build backyard curling rink
Rocks from a Persephone Theatre production
Who hasn't seen a backyard hockey rink somewhere in this province?
But a backyard curling rink? Not nearly as common.
David and Natal Laycock built one in the back yard of their home in Saskatoon's Willowgrove neighbourhood.
"I love curling, it's been a part of my life since I was seven," Natal said. "I played at the old Hub before it was torn down."
David, meanwhile, grew up around curling in his hometown of Saltcoats, Sask.
Thank W.O. Mitchell, and Persephone
Like the sport itself, the story of how the Laycocks' backyard rink came to be is so Saskatchewan.
Winter is so volatile, poor David, the first year he did it he was there with his bare hands painting rings when it was minus 30.- Natal Laycock commending her husband's curling spirit.
They thought about building it for awhile. But it took a production of the homegrown classic — W.O. Mitchell's "The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon" at Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre — for the Laycock's project to come together.
They inherited the curling rocks, the central props in the play.
"We're season subscribers at Persephone," Natal said. "So we'd seen the show and I'd seen the rocks, and they're fantastic."
The rocks were destined for storage. Her parents, who are also connected with Persephone, made a few phone calls and gave the rocks a new home.
Built for pint-sized players
Lighter and smaller than the granite rocks seen on most curling sheets, they're made of a hard plastic resin and painted to look like granite.
Weighing 9 kilograms each, the rocks are the size used by junior curlers. Just right for the Laycock's 6-year-old daughter Lily, who is starting to learn the fundamentals of the game
"Lily enjoys it. When she has success and it goes all the way down the ice it's very exciting," Natal said. "And you know Veronica (their one-year-old) is just sort of a spectator at this point, but they like it. It's a fun backyard activity that nobody else has."
So why don't we see more backyard curling rinks?
"It's a really labour intensive project." Natal said.
"Winter is so volatile, poor David, the first year we did it he was there with his bare hands painting rings when it was minus 30, and flooding ice."The ice has to be kept flat and level — no small feat outdoors.
The trick, David said, is to do lots of small floods.
"And lots of flooding, so it's really just putting in the time," he said. "If something bulges up you have to chip it off and flood again."
Then there's the finishing touch, the all-important pebbling — sprinkling the frozen surface with water droplets, over which when frozen, the bottom of the rocks will glide.
And here's the other Saskatchewan angle to this story.
David is the brother of Steve Laycock, the skip representing Saskatchewan at this year's Brier.
"I had him over last year and was trying to get him back this year, but he said I had to get more curl in the ice," David quipped.
Instead, David and Natal and their two girls will be in Calgary, watching Steve's opening games at the Brier.