By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Top curlers from across the country are in North Bay this week to compete in the 2015 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.
Hosted by the North Bay Granite Club, the action kicks off Monday at 9:30 a.m. and will continue with three draws daily through the week, leading up to playoffs Thursday and semi-finals Saturday morning followed by bronze and gold medal games Saturday afternoon.
“It is great for the City of North Bay and for the Granite Club in particular,” said event co-chairman Dave Bennett, noting the local curling rink is encouraging the public to come out and watch.
This is the second time the national championship has been held in North Bay, which last played host to the event in 1988. Bennett said it’s not only an opportunity to showcase the city, but also a chance to promote the sport.
“Hopefully we can educate people about our great game,” he said.
The 14 participating teams, representing all the provinces and territories including Northern Ontario, arrived in the city on the weekend in time to hit the ice Sunday for practice.
Rick Miller, Bennett’s co-chairman, said spectators can expect to see a high calibre of curling.
“They’re going to see some of the finest players in the country,” he said, noting a number of this year’s participants have competed at major curling events such as the Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
A few of the notable players include Jamie Koe, an eight-time Brier veteran from the Northwest Territories, his sister, nine-time Scotties skip Kerry Galusha and Gary Oke, of Newfoundland and Labrador, also a former Brier competitor.
Planning for the event, which involves about 120 volunteers, began more than a year ago.
Jack and Bea Lockhart have been named honourary chairs of the championship in recognition of their contributions and devotion to the club.
Although play begins this morning, opening ceremonies will take place at 6:30 p.m. prior to the evening draw, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Bennett said the official kick off will be a spectacular event featuring all of the teams and their provincial and territorial flags.
He said the national event plans to pause Tuesday to mark Remembrance Day with a ceremony involving members of CFB North Bay. Bennett said organizers wanted to be sure to do something special to honour the occasion, especially in light of the recent events on Parliament Hill where a soldier was murdered and a gunman entered the Centre Block.
He said the Granite Club will be hosting entertainment and social events nightly throughout the championship, with a closing banquet to take place Saturday at the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park.
Although the competition is fierce, Bennett said the mixed event also has an easygoing feel to it.
“They’re here to win and to compete,” he said of the players and their friends and family members. “But they’re also here to have a lot of fun.”