Winter Olympics 2014: the home of the Curling granite is still for sale

Curling at the Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, 2012: Martin Sesaker, Norway. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Update: Ailsa Craig has found a buyer

Prices have already gone down: while 2 years ago, the Marquess of Ailsa had put the volcanic island of Ailsa Craig for £ 2.5m for sales, we „rediscovered“ it these days for only £ 1.5m, so to say. What makes the little piece of stone located in the outer Firth of Clyde between Scotland and Northern Ireland worth’s mention is its quarry for the ‚blue hone’ granite.

That is the material used for two-thirds of the Curling stones. Since 1998, Curling is an Olympic sport. It will be practiced in the ongoing Winter Games in Sotchi, Russia.

Ailsa Craig (behind). Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Vincent van Zeijst.

Ailsa Craig is formed from a volcanic plug from an extinct volcano believed to be over 500 million years old. Its shape is as one would expect a vulcano to be: a symmetrical cone of primitive rock thrusts from the sea 10 miles West of the South Ayrshire coastline. It reaches a height of over 1100 feet (433 m) and extends to about 2 miles (3.6 km) in circumference.

Curling granite stones or „rocks“. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Clément Bucco-Lechat.

In Curling, stone pieces, also called „rocks“, are slid across ice sheets towards a circular target, the „house“. As is obvious it needs a lot of sensitiveness to give the stone (between 38-44 pounds, 17-20 kg) the right power to make its way. Less easy to understand is the tactics: „It takes years to master the strategy“, insiders say. That’s why they like to call their sport „Chess on ice“.

Each team has set of 8 stones with handles in the same color. Due to its ring-like bottom-side, the stone’s way is not straight but curved so that obstacles may be circumnavigated. Sweeping the ice makes the stone follow a straighter line and gives it a longer move. Pieces which do not reach a certain distance must be taken out of the game, is one of the rules. Winner is the team that brings its pieces closest to the home.

In the last years, gold medalist teams came from Sweden (women) and Canada (men).

Back to business: the agency to sell Ailsa Craig is Valid Private Islands company based in Hamburg, Germany.

Canadian Curling Association

Valid Private Islands, Hamburg

Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden revealed the mechanism behind the curved path of a curling stone.

Megafaces: Kinetic Facade in Sotchi (1, 2)

translation: pebe

(08.02.2014, USA: 02.08.2014)