Curling’s sad tale in Harbour Grace The CBN Curling Club offered a different sort of recreation experience to area residents when it opened in 1980. In two-plus decades, the club hosted numerous tournaments and special events. There was even an Olympic champion that got his start there. But, it was not meant to last. Certain decisions, a lack of membership and financial problems all pointed to its eventual closure.
A lot of people were in awe of Jamie Korab when Harbour Grace’s own returned from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy with a gold medal.
That was quite the accomplishment for an athlete who honed his skills for years throwing curling stones at the local curling club.
Odd thing was, the ice surface Korab used to play on was no longer in use. A year later, the fate of the local curling club was sealed when the Town of Harbour Grace sold the property, which Clarke’s Furniture now uses to showcase couches amongst other items (read Nicholas Mercer’s story and accompanying column on Page B1).
The property was costing the town tens-of-thousands of dollars annually, and the sport’s heyday in the community was a distant memory.
In his column this week, reporter Nicholas Mercer argues that in light of curling’s higher profile nationally these days via increased television coverage, the sport might’ve had a better chance of making a go of it in Harbour Grace if the curling club was still around.
That might be so. But there are a few things to consider when pondering that hypothetical scenario.
When parents spend money on their children’s extra curricular activities, they’re no doubt looking to get some bang for their buck. Childhood obesity has been a problem in Newfoundland and Labrador for decades, and technology is negatively impacting the amount of physical activity children are getting.
Understanding that childhood obesity increases the risk of developing health problems such as Type-II diabetes, its seems fair to suggest that parents conscious of encouraging their children to get active want to find the right sports. So, where does curling fit in that spectrum? It was funny to catch an old image on social media last week from a 1970s edition of the Canadian Brier curling event. The curler shown sliding the stone into play is smoking a cigarette.
Times have no doubt changed, but the fact remains that curling if anything is more mentally taxing than it is physically exhausting. It’s a game of strategy, and like any good sport, it can produce exhilarating moments of tension on par with any dramatic TV show or movie.
But if you’re a parent looking to shell out dollars for a sport, are you honestly going to do it for curling? There are plenty more high-impact sports out there to avail of. It’ll be fun for some, but not the sort of sport children will come to in droves.
On the issue of the sport’s popularity, it’s ironic to see that last week’s big announcement about St. John’s making a push to host the 2017 Brier coincided with news that the qualifying event in Newfoundland and Labrador for this year’s Brier will only involve two teams.
It’s true that the location for this year’s tankard — Labrador City — factored into the lack of interest in taking part. But it’s troubling to think that there are almost no teams capable of defeating Brad Gushue, winner of 11-straight provincial tankards.
According to The Telegram, fellow tankard participant Gary Wensman defeated Gushue’s team once in a round-robin match in 2008. Since then, Gushue has lost only one other tankard match.
It has been nine years since Gushue and Korab won the gold medal. It’s not unreasonable to think their joint accomplishment could have inspired others in this province. As it stands, the level of competition in Newfoundland and Labrador appears to be fairly abysmal.
Hard to believe things would be much different if there was still a curling club in Harbour Grace.