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Craig Anderson reports
"There was a carnival atmosphere on the ice"
 real 56k

Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 20:27 GMT
Curlers have an ice day
There was a carnival atmosphere on the ice
Almost 200 curling enthusiasts descended on Grantown on Spey for a rare opportunity to take part in an outdoor bonspiel.

The competition drew teams from throughout the Highlands and the north-east with sub-zero temperatures creating near perfect conditions.

The event was described as a great success by competitors, many of whom said they much preferred outdoor to indoor curling.

Meanwhile, there are hopes that the icy conditions will mean a "Grand Match" can go ahead at the Lake of Menteith in Perthshire for only the fourth time since 1945.

Curling stone with ribbon attached
Most of the competition was just for fun
There was a carnival atmosphere at the Craig Lynn pond for the Grantown on Spey bonspeil.

Moira Gordon, from Ross-shire, said: "You can't beat an outdoor bonspeil. I would give up indoor curling just to play outdoor.

"It is very few days that you get that you can do outdoor curling but I just hope that the grand match goes ahead because that would be absolutely fantastic."

Kenny Macdonald, from Forres, said: "We normally play indoors, you see, and its great fun playing outdoors.

"The ice is not smooth, there is snow lying on the ground, you hit a wee lump of ice and the stone goes away, its entirely different."

The grand match between curlers from north and south can only take place if the ice is at least seven inches thick.

Thin ice warning

Ian Turnbull, convener of the Grand Match Committee at the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, said: "We don't go on the ice until there are five inches - that is the mark - and there is no way the curlers will go on until it is six inches. The match is played on seven inches.

"We are responsible people with a traditional game which has been played for generations and we are careful with it.

"I certainly don't encourage anything other than organised activities which take place, but we don't feel ourselves responsible if the public choose to come onto the ice."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) has warned the event could encourage children to venture onto ice when conditions are less safe, with potentially fatal consequences.

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24 Jan 00 | Scotland
Winter sports in Scotland
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