Lodge cast iron is synonymous with the national cornbread cook-off. But there's one competition where contestants show off their skills with a Lodge skillet on ice, not at the oven.
Ice on the Landing, the open-air ice-skating rink in the Chattanooga Choo Choo Gardens, is holding its Iron Skillet Curling tournament now through the finals on Jan. 22.
"Basically it's curling, only instead of using a stone you use Lodge cast-iron skillets," explains Ann Ball of Chattanooga Presents. "It's a hoot. We have four teams who are competing each week, and we will have the finals on Jan. 22, the day after the rink closes to the public. It's a bunch of fun. Everybody has a cold brew after curling and a great time."
"Probably, the more accurate description of our game would be 'bocce on ice,' since we are doing our own version of curling," adds Carla Pritchard of Chattanooga Presents.
Pritchard credits Tom Montague with coming up with this idea. Curling teams will compete for prizes from Lodge and American Draft.
Montague gives this rundown of rules for Iron Skillet Curling:
"We are looking for either teams of four or individuals to be assigned to a team of four," he says, adding there are Monday and Wednesday groups that have not yet filled. Tuesday's teams are full.
"Mondays will have three sessions: Jan. 7, 14 and 21. One team has been filled," says Montague. Wednesday's remaining sessions are Jan. 9 and 16, and one Wednesday team has been filled as well."
Weekly rounds are held at 9 p.m. The Jan. 22 finals will begin at 5 p.m.
The registration fee is $15 per person, which includes an hour on the ice and a beer from American Draft. Montague says individuals may also request a single session, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
All participants will be eligible to play in the Jan. 22 tournament.
Montague describes skillet curling as "an amalgamation of Bavarian curling, bocce and cornhole."
Skates are not worn during matches. Whatever footwear is most comfortable (and has a good grip) on an icy sidewalk will do.
Here's how it works:
» Teams consist of four players with four skillets.
» The "jack" (as in bocce) or the "daube" is served by a bacon press.
» Two teams (Red vs. Blue) each place two players at each end of the rink (like cornhole). All skillets and jack go to one side.
» A coin toss determines the jack slider team to begin.
» First team Red slides the jack from behind the curved corners, and must pass mid-rink (the hog line) but go no further than far side curves to establish the target. Should the jack fail to stop within bounds, Blue team is given the opportunity.
» The same team that sets the jack follows up by sliding the first skillet to establish the point to beat.
The slide is ideally produced by pushing the skillet from the handle, basin forward, underhanded with the base first contacting the ice.
If Red sets the point, Blue teammates alternate sliding skillets until they stop one of their skillets closer to the jack. Distance is determined by comparing the closest points of the skillets to the closest point of the jack.
At this point, turn reverts to the Red team to accomplish the same. This alternates until each teammate slides all four skillets. A total of eight skillets will be scattered.
» Should Red team have the closest skillet, Red gets one point plus an additional point for each Red skillet closer than the Blue opponent's closest. It is possible to score up to four points. If both teams conclude with a skillet touching and/or hovering any part above the press, no points are scored. Wherever the jack winds up is the ultimate target, even if pushed up against walls.
» The scoring team's other members then slide the jack to restart play back toward the starting side to complete the round. Play can either continue for an agreed number of rounds (minimum of three), or 21 points, or a set time.
» With four teams playing for one hour, rink will be divided into two courts to play simultaneously. After 25 minutes of completed rounds, winners and losers will face one another.
For more information or to register a team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.