New house on the button for curling club

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter



Evergreen curling club

n New venue: 10950 S.W. 5th St., Suite 155, at the Green Tree West business park in Beaverton, Ore.

n Membership: $65 a year.

n Learn to curl: Classes for beginners available, including wheelchair and junior programs.

n Regional competition: Women’s playdowns Jan. 11-13; Men’s playdowns Jan. 18-20. Top teams qualify for club nationals Feb. 9-16 at Green Bay, Wis.

n Learn more: http://www.evergr... .

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Eleanor Robertson's path to a national championship recently became much smoother.

The Salmon Creek resident is the skip for the Evergreen Curling Club women's team that this week will compete for a regional championship. That opportunity is nothing new for Robertson, whose team qualified for nationals two winters ago.

But the opportunity to host a regional playdown on a rink that is putting the Evergreen Curling Club on the map — well, that is extra special.

The facility, located in a Beaverton business park, opened in December. It is the second dedicated curling facility in the western United States — the other is in Seattle. On Saturday, the club celebrated with a grand opening event complete with a pair of bagpipe players in honor of the sport's Scottish heritage.

"It's nice to be able to throw a rock and know it's going to do what you want it to do," Robertson said.

Members of the Evergreen Curling Club have wanted such a surface since the club formed in 2002, with Vancouver's Mountain View Ice Arena as its original home base. The Lloyd Center Ice Rink in Portland has served as the club's primary home since the Mountain View facility was reduced to one rink. But sharing the ice

with skaters meant ice time was limited and ice quality unpredictable.

"Lloyd Center was like playing billiards on a warped table or putting on a non-groomed green," said Vancouver resident Jeff Tomlinson, a longtime club member.

The new rink is in Beaverton, but the Evergreen Curling Club has a strong Clark County presence among its 120 or so members. Three members of the women's team that will compete Friday through Sunday for a spot in the U.S. Curling Club Nationals live in Clark County. In addition to Robertson, the team skip (captain), the squad includes Yvonne Perceval of Brush Prairie, Kathy Placek of Vancouver, and Kendall Hansen of Portland.

Doug Schaak, a Vancouver resident who founded the Evergreen Curling Club a decade ago, said that a permanent home has been the club's dream almost from the start. Getting it done required plenty of creativity and effort from club members.

Bruce Irvin, the current ECC president, said the club looked at 35 sites — including some in Vancouver — before settling in early July on space in the Greentree West business park just east of Highway 217. From there, it took more than five months and plenty of man hours from club members to turn the space into a top-notch venue that has three 140-foot-long curling sheets.

Irvin said the project cost more than $400,000, and a loan from the Granite Curling Club in Seattle helped the process. In addition to the ice, the facility includes lockers and a viewing/social area complete with video screens showing the activity on the rink.

The opportunity to host significant events such as this week's women's MoPac Region playdowns — and the men's regional one week later — is reason for Evergreen Curling Club members to celebrate.

But more significant are opportunities to socialize.

"Now that we have a clubhouse, the social aspect of the club is going to improve," Tomlinson said, noting that many friends appeared for Saturday's grand opening. "People will just drop in here to visit, even when they aren't curling."

That, Robertson said, is more significant than chasing championships.

"Now we have the ability for our junior and wheelchair curlers to spend a lot more time (curling)," she said. "That's the beauty of having our own facility. Now we can curl when we want to."