Wool­wich gets ready to host curl­ing cham­pi­onships

Cana­dian Olympic curler Rachel Hol­man amongst high pro­file play­ers to ap­pear at the WMC this month

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

HOT ON THE HEELS of last week’s ringette tour­na­ment, the Town­ship of Wool­wich will be gear­ing up to host one of the biggest curl­ing com­pe­ti­tions in the prov­ince. The CurlON Pro­vin­cial Men & Women’s Curl­ing Cham­pi­onships will be kick­ing off Jan­uary 27 at the Wool­wich Me­mo­rial Cen­tre, bring­ing in thou­sands of spec­ta­tors and some of the top curlers in the prov­ince – and in­deed, the coun­try – to com­pete.

Ten men’s teams and eight women’s, in­clud­ing the likes of Cana­dian Olympic curler Rachel Hol­man out of Ot­tawa, and world cham­pi­ons Glen Howard and John Ep­ping, will be amongst those com­pet­ing at the Elmira are­nas for a chance to rep­re­sent On­tario at the Cana­dian na­tion­als.

“In the curl­ing world, to have your name out there is very ex­cit­ing,” said Sue Martin, chair­per­son of the cham­pi­onship or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, and mem­ber of the Elmira Dis­trict Curl­ing Club who helped put in the town­ship’s bid for the event.

“It’s ex­tremely ex­cit­ing. Ex­tremely a lot of work,” added Martin with a laugh. “We have been work­ing on this for over a year.”

Up to an es­ti­mated 10,000 spec­ta­tors are ex­pected to pack the stands at the WMC at the height of the cham­pi­onships, which will be run in a set of round-robin matches and cul­mi­nate in the fi­nal week­end with the play­offs. For town­ship res­i­dents, the lo­cal venue of this year’s cham­pi­onships are a prime op­por­tu­nity to watch some of the pre-em­i­nent ath­letes of the sport per­form.

“Rachel Hol­man is a Cana­dian cham­pion. She was a world cham­pion, she was our Olympic rep­re­sen­ta­tive last year, and she’s go­ing to be here,” said Martin. “An­other high pro­file on the men’s side is Glen Howard. He’s been to these provin­cials 15 times. He’s won them 15 times, and he’s go­ing to be here. Last year’s win­ner, John Ep­ping, he will be here.

“So we’re re­ally ex­cited to see high pro­file names like that,” she added. Upand-com­ing lo­cal ta­lent will also be join­ing at the cham­pi­onships, rub­bing el­bows with some of the sport’s greats.

The women’s and men’s cham­pi­onships have been merged into a sin­gle event at the WMC, and the vic­tors from each will move on to rep­re­sent On­tario at the pro­vin­cial games. For the women’s teams, that is the Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts, which will be hosted in Syd­ney, Nova Sco­tia, from Fe­bru­ary 16 to 24. The men mean­while will go on to com­pete at the 2019 Tim Hor­tons Brier in Bran­don, Man­i­toba from March 2 to 10.

The win­ners of those re­spec­tive tour­na­ments will fi­nally go on to rep­re­sent Canada on the world stage, at LGT World Women’s Curl­ing Cham­pi­onship Den­mark and the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curl­ing Cham­pi­onship in Al­berta.

The Elmira Curl­ing Club led the suc­cess­ful bid to host the games, though the town­ship was fully in sup­port of the move, says Martin.

“I am very ex­cited about the provin­cials be­ing held here,” said Wool­wich Mayor Sandy Shantz in an email. “We also just fin­ished host­ing univer­sity ringette and will also host the Na­tional Sledge Hockey tour­na­ment in May. When I met with or­ga­niz­ers for curl­ing and hockey, they were im­pressed with our fa­cil­i­ties and are look­ing for­ward to great events.”

The eight-day tour­na­ment is ex­pected to draw in an es­ti­mated $1.4 mil­lion in tourism to the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates pro­vided by CurlOn, and could also help at­tract more high-pro­file events to the town­ship.

“This is a re­ally big year for Wool­wich and the Elmira area,” said Sherry Do­iron, man­ager of the sport host­ing of­fice for the Water­loo Re­gion. “They’ve just hosted the Univer­sity Ringette Chal­lenge a week ago and they’re gear­ing up to host this event. And then in May the Na­tional Sledge Hockey Cham­pi­onships will be hosted at Wool­wich arena as well. So it’s a fan­tas­tic six months for that area to be do­ing some sport host­ing. So I’m very happy to see how ac­tive the com­mu­nity is be­ing in the re­gion.”

Tick­ets for the events, in­clud­ing sin­gle day tick­ets, week­end tick­ets and full passes are avail­able on­line at www.cur­lon­champs.ca, rang­ing from $12 for the sin­gles to $150 for the full pass.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

The Elmira & Dis­trict Curl­ing Club led the town­ship’s bid to host the pro­vin­cial curl­ing cham­pi­onships. While mem­bers get in some time on ice at the club’s fa­cil­ity, the event will be hosted at the WMC.

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