A preview to the Olympics is what the World Curling Tour will bring to Penticton for the Ashley Home Store Curling Classic Nov. 3 to 6.
“These are all teams we could be watching in the Olympics next year,” said Cathy Jones, manager of the Penticton Curling Club.
Teams that highlight the 24-team mens’ field are Sweden’s Niklas Edin, ranked No. 2 in the WCT, Alberta’s Kevin Koe (No. 5), Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers (No. 4), Manitoba’s Mike McEwen (No.7), Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock (No.11), Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud (No. 8), Scotland’s Tom Brewster (No.48), Netherlands Jaap van Dorp (No.40).
There is a purse of $66,000 available, and of the 24 teams, eight will advance to the qualifying round.
“It’s pretty incredible that the curling club versus the arena, can attract the quality of the top teams in the world to our city … not for a national championship, or a Continental Cup, just for a good quality cash spiel,” said Matt Tolley, who is part of the organizing committee. “It’s pretty awesome. I think everyone is pretty excited, especially teams in B.C.”
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Tolley said most teams in B.C. are at a different level then the top teams, but the only way the game will progress B.C. as a curling hub is to play these better teams.
With the event two weeks away, Jones said things look amazing as they are close to selling out. Seating capacity is a little more than 350. A large amount of those tickets were purchased by club members. There are 23 weekend passes remaining, which can be purchased by calling the Penticton Curling Club or dropping by.
During any given draw, Jones said it is likely that the top eight teams will always be on the ice.
“There is going to be great curling to watch consistently all the time,” said Jones.
The club has attracted spectator interest from throughout the Okanagan, B.C. as well as Alberta. Jones said that is good for the city as people will be staying at hotels boosting tourism numbers.
The first rock hasn’t even been delivered for the inaugural cash-spiel and the organizers have a wait list for teams.
“If anybody drops out, they want in right away,” she said. “I suspect we will see that again. Filling up a 24-team roster, we’re just waiting for a confirmation of date, because we like to work around making sure nothing is on those weekends.”
Having the WCT at the Penticton Curling Club keeps it very intimate, which Jones said is really great for the fans that come to watch. Parking is expected to be an issue, but Jones said there will be some areas barricaded, which will go to the curlers first. Jones encourages people to come early.
“Come early, it’s not reserved seating, it’s first come, first serve,” said Jones.
The draw on Friday and Saturday starts at 8:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 3:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sunday will be 8:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and a potential tie-breaker at 3:15 p.m. Quarter-finals start at 7:15 p.m. Monday is the semifinals at 8:15 a.m. and final at 11:45 a.m., both of which will be televised on Shaw.
For tickets, call the club at 250-492-5647.
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