Julie Druker | Aug 19, 2015
The sport of Eisstock has steadily been gaining in popularity, especially in the Township of South Frontenac. This is likely due to the fact that a number of enthusiastic and gung-ho players from the area have recently taken up the sport.
Karl Hammer Jr. is one such player. Just a few years back he discovered the sport through his family's German heritage and after taking it up he has been encouraging friends and family members to do the same. “My father and grandfather both played the sport, which was popular in the area up until the early 1990s but for some reason almost disappeared. It was when I moved to Gould Lake in the winter years back and saw the dust collecting on my dad's old stocks that I became interested in the game, and encouraged my dad to get out his stocks and play with me”.
Now just a few years later the Kingston and Area Ice Stock club is slowly coming back to life.
The gaining popularity of the sport was evident in a recent Canadian Ice Stock Federation tournament that took place at Harrowsmith Centennial Park on August 16. Hosted by the Kingston and Area Ice Stock Club, whose membership has gone from 20 to 40 members, five teams participated in the Harrowsmith tournament, including three out-of-town teams from Barrie, Cambridge and Kitchener.
The sport, which combines elements of bocce ball and Canadian-style curling, originated in Europe, specifically in Bavaria, Germany. Both Karl’s father, Karl Sr. and his sister Tasha Hammer played at the Sunday event. In fact Tasha Hammer, who herself has only been playing the sport for a year and a half, and long time player Kata Zaric, were teammates on the women's Canadian national team and won gold when they competed against Brazil at the 2015 America's Cup, which took place in Barrie, Ont. earlier this year. Kara also participated in Sunday's tournament and Tasha said the team is hoping to compete in Ritten, Italy at the World's Cup in February 2106.
Tasha and Kara were not the only well-known players throwing stocks in Harrowsmith on Sunday. Ronny Horvath, president of the Canadian Ice Stock Federation, competed at the world championships in 2012 in Bavaria, Germany as part of the Canadian national team, who placed tenth out of 42 countries and he was also participating at Sunday's tournament. He described the game as involving two four-member teams who compete against each other by tossing stocks with the aim of getting them closest to the target. The game differs from curling in that the target is not a fixed point. “The game is unique because unlike curling, the target moves throughout and the players have to be able to shoot left and right, long and short. Certain tactics come into play that give competitors more chances to outwit their opponents.”
Horvath said that he is aiming to make the game better known to all Canadians. “Canadians are well known players of games in all seasons so why not make ice stock an all-seasons sport? We play hockey and go ice fishing on the lakes so why not play ice stock out on the lakes in the winter months as well?” Horvath also said that the game is perfect for the whole family. “If you join a club, you can make up a team solely of family members of different ages so it is a great game if you want to spend time with the whole family and socialize with players of all ages.”
Karl Hammer Jr. said that another nice thing about the game is that you can play at any level you want. “Serous players can chose to compete at as high a level as they like or alternately, can choose to play just for fun.”