Curling’s profile is about to get raised to a new level in Pictou County.
The Pictou County Wellness Centre will host the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge event in November.
Jim Nix, event co-chairman, said of Tuesday’s announcement, “This is massive. The event will feature 60 teams and involve two tiers.”
He explained, “Tier 1 will feature 15 of the best women’s and 15 men’s teams in the world, all decided by their position in the Order of Merit (OOM) Ranking System. We expect that most if not all teams will attend.”
Invited to the Tier 2 event will be the next 10 teams in the OOM ranking system for both women and men, with five spots each allocated to invite regional teams. “So you could end up with the Nova Scotia provincial champions being invited or the PEI or New Brunswick provincial champions being invited. This provides an opportunity for teams across the country to make it into these events.”
Curling fans can hope to see among the men’s teams Brad Gushue and his rink from Newfoundland, currently Team Canada competing in the Tim Hortons Brier this week, Brad Jacobs and his team from Northern Ontario who won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as two-time World champion and three-time Canadian champion Kevin Koe and his team from Alberta. Among the women’s teams fans can hope to see world champion and three-time Canadian champion Rachel Homan and her Ontario team, current Canadian champion Chelsea Carey and her team from Alberta, as well as the Manitoba rink of Jennifer Jones. Jones was recently named the Greatest Female Curler Ever by TSN and her team took home the gold at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
On the international field curling fans can hope to see reigning World Champion and 2018 Olympic Silver Medalist, Sweden’s Niklas Edin, and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, the 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge will take place November 5-10 and will be a boon to the local economy.
“Picture 240 of the world’s best curlers and an additional 60 people from the Sportsnet team — so you’re talking about 300 people before we include the fans,” said co-chair Donalda Buckingham. “There is no better way to watch great shot-making than to watch the world’s best curlers and watch five games at a time.”
Local hotels, motels, eateries, stores and shops will all benefit from this influx of people.
“We have 1,100-plus room nights booked in the county so far,” added Nix. “And that’s probably not enough.”
There is also a need for volunteers to help at the event.
“We will need more than 200 volunteers,” Buckingham advised. “This will include people to volunteer as timers, scorekeepers, statisticians, ushers, ticket takers, transportation and more. You don’t have to be a curler for most of these roles.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can register online through the Pictou County Wellness Centre website (pcwellnesscentre.ca).
“This is a Pictou County event,” noted Buckingham, “and it’s at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. It’s really celebrating the entire county. All four of the local curling clubs and their members are actively involved.”
Nix agreed. “It’s an opportunity to bring the curling clubs together to host what may be the largest curling event ever in Nova Scotia and certainly here in Pictou County.”
The total purse for the event is $300,000. “It’s not just a little bit of money. It’s very big and we expect Pictou County Wellness Centre to be rocking for six solid days.”
Event package tickets will be available online through the Pictou County Wellness Centre; individual tickets will be available later. The co-chairs said 1,200 to 1,400 tickets will be available for every draw.
“For the first couple of months ticket packages will be available then it will move into individual game tickets but to get the best deal and your choice of seats, get your tickets early,” Nix suggested.