Ailsa Craig is having a bit of a moment during these Winter Games. As curling enjoys it’s quadrennial fifteen minutes of fame, so too does the tiny island that serves as the sole source of the unique granite used to make Olympic curling stones.
The small, uninhabited volcanic plug off the coast of Scotland produces granite that is low in quartz with a tight molecular structure that makes it impervious to water and melting ice — a sort of geological anomaly that feels almost divinely imparted on the world of curling.
It’s that mystique that makes Ailsa Craig the perfect namesake for the baby daughter of Team USA curler, Joe Polo, and his wife Kristin. Polo is an alternate on this year’s men’s team and won a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Games, but his family’s story off the ice is even more inspiring.
In her story for the Associated Press, Kristen Gelineau detailed how they’d already decided to name their daughter Ailsa, after the legendary island, when Kristin went into labor at just 25-and-a-half weeks. She was born at just 1 pound, 14 ounces.
“You’re picking her up and she weighs nothing,” Joe remembers now. “You just put her against your chest and go, ‘What am I going to do here?'”
Ailsa’s lungs were underdeveloped and the doctors said she’d be on a respirator for several weeks. She came off it after just one day and was breathing better than anyone had anticipated. That trend of defying expectations continued as Ailsa suffered virtually none of the expected setbacks that preemies often face, and 74 days later she was strong enough to go home.
It’s beautiful to think that maybe just a tiny part of her incredible origin story is tied into the mythos of Ailsa Craig.