Three members of the Irish Curling Association played in the 54th Summer Bonspiel in beautiful Cortina D’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites last week.
Ross and Alison Barr and Louise Kerr, plus John Brown from the English Curling Association, joined 37 other, multi-national, teams (including two world champions) that make the annual pilgrimage to curl and socialise in the most stunning of Alpine settings.
The foursome played teams from Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland and the USA, winning one! But having a good time is high on the agenda during the four days of competition and the team certainly did that.
Day one highlight was taking the cable car from the town centre up to Faloria for lunch and a quick climb up the mountains.
The rain came on Friday and Saturday, but as we were mostly in the massive 1956 Olympic stadium playing, or drinking Prosecco or beer and eating pizza and ice-cream we didn’t notice
There was a grand dinner on the Saturday night with delicious food and copious amounts of alcohol – all courtesy of the organisers.
On the Sunday, after a morning game against our American friends from the famous Margarita Club, we took a drive up the hairpin bends out of Cortina, accompanied by bikers with wheels and bikers with engines to the vertigo-inducing cable car ride at Lagazuoi. From there we climbed to the 7870 metre summit of Falzarego and gazed in awe as the snow-capped high Alps stretched off into the distance.
The day we returned home, we heard that Cortina, co-hosting with Milan, had been awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics. We were chuffed for the townspeople as they were very excited about getting the Games back again. As well as curling in the Olympic stadium, which now has a modern roof, having been open air in 1956, we also visited the old bobsleigh track, which has been out of commission for 11 years, having originally been built in 1923. The Italians are allegedly going to spend €38 million refurbishing it in time for 2026.
Every curler should experience a trip to Cortina – it’s fantastico!