Eit’s a wet morning. Mist hangs over the trees, birds are singing, and the air is wonderfully fresh. Manfred Weitz and Gernot Wolperding look around with satisfaction, the historic hunting lodge Platte is only a few meters away. A few hikers pass by. Winter is coming and the first snow fell over the weekend. Appropriately for the season, the two Wiesbadeners have converted their “highest open-air bowling alley in Germany” into an energy-saving ice stock rink for the second time and the “70+ start-up” is hoping for eager players.
A curling rink without ice is nothing unusual in itself, because there are such facilities in the Rhine-Main area and in Wiesbaden at other places, such as on the Neroberg, and they are all beautiful. What is special, however, is the location of the facility on the approximately 500-meter-high slab on the federal highway 417. The course is located on the site of a small golf course, and the nearby forest creates a very special atmosphere. It’s an idyllic place, and when there’s enough snow on the Platte, Wiesbadeners flock to go sledding. A curling rink goes very well with it.
“It’s going really well”
Because Germany saves energy, the railway designed by the two inventors is sustainable and environmentally friendly. “It slides really well,” says Weitz, while Wolperding pushes an ice stock across the track. Without much effort, the stick shoots forward, but unfortunately misses the stave. That doesn’t bother him, because it’s more important for the two of them that the technology works. The track works with a smooth pond liner and water that is collected in two rain barrels at the edge of the track. Returning water is diverted to a recently planted sycamore maple to help the young tree grow. A photovoltaic system that feeds a battery is installed on the rear canopy. Powerful LED headlights can illuminate the track in the evening hours.
Lawyer Weitz and civil engineer Wolperding originally built the facility in February 2021 as an outdoor bowling alley. The two retirees put almost 16,000 euros and around 700 hours of work into their project, but they were also able to win some sponsors. When asked if and when this investment will be worthwhile, the 79-year-old Wolperding replies with a laugh: “Maybe I’ll see it in the future.” Apparently it’s not primarily about making money. The two inventors are passionate bowling brothers and members of the “oldest bowling club in Germany”, the Wiesbaden bowling society from 1855, as they say. When the corona pandemic made it impossible to practice their sport, they quickly built the open-air bowling alley.
But outdoor bowling is not a winter sport, and the two Wiesbadeners asked themselves last winter what to do on the track when it gets too cold for bowling. “My wife had the idea,” says the 73-year-old Weitz about the conversion of the track, and the two went into action. The partially covered facility is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Groups of a maximum of ten people can slide curling stones there. Players can buy mulled wine in the neighboring restaurant, which is also where the toilets are. Booking and payment are only online on the homepage www.outdoor-kegelbahn-wiesbaden.de possible. The guests will then be emailed a code number with which they can operate the system. “We were lucky with the location,” says Wolperding and pushes another curling stone across the track. This time he scores.