Penticton will host the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 as announced by Curling Canada Thursday.
“Well it feels like Christmas today. Thank you Curling Canada,” said Rock the Bid co-chair Kim Kirkham, during a press conference at the South Okanagan Events Centre. “We’ve been waiting a long time. Good things come to those who wait. Better things come when you work hard. I’d like to thank the City of Penticton for believing in us.”
When asked why Penticton won over other competing communities, including Sydney, N.S., Kirkham was told they did really well with the bid. Al Cameron, director, communications and media relations for Curling Canada, passing by said because the bid was “awesome.”
“There was a great deal of interest from across the country in hosting the 2018 Scotties, but the bid from Penticton raised the bar and made our decision relatively easy,” said Peter Inch, chair of Curling Canada’s board of governors in a press release. “The South Okanagan will put on a great show, not only for the curlers and their families, but also for curling fans from across Canada, and I’m confident this will be an event remembered for years to come.”
Kirkham, who played a key role in bringing the World Financial Group Continental Cup to Penticton in 2013, said it was a long journey.
“We were so excited. I got a phone call, a little drum too. It was a very exciting moment,” said Kirkham. “Unfortunately I couldn’t share it with anyone. I had to keep it to myself, which was really difficult. Inside I was just bursting.”
It will be the first time Penticton hosts the Scotties.
“Penticton has a rich history for hosting large-scale events and having the Scotties in February 2018 will provide the community with significant impact, both socially and economically,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, adding that the economic benefit to the city is projected to be between $6 and 12 million. “We are proud to play host to this national event and welcome the top female curlers, their families, and fans. It will be another opportunity to showcase our wonderful facilities, beautiful region, and warm, friendly community.”
The 2018 Scotties will have a 16-team field for the first time in the history of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship. The expanded field is being utilized as a pilot after the format was approved at Curling Canada’s annual meetings this past summer in Cornwall, Ont. The field will feature the 14 provincial/territorial champions of Curling Canada’s Member Associations, along with defending champion Team Canada. The qualifying process for the 16th team is still being determined and will be announced later.
Kelly Scott, a two-time Scotties champ, backed Penticton’s bid.
“I couldn’t be happier to see the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts coming to the Okanagan,” said Scott, a West Kelowna resident. “As a player, the Scotties holds a special place in my heart, and as a proud resident of the Okanagan area, I know the 2018 Scotties will be a success, both on and off the ice. This will be a wonderful experience for the community, athletes, volunteers and fans.”
One of those fans is Erin Manning, a junior curler with the Penticton Curling Club, who was at the packed press conference with other junior members.
“I’m excited so I can see all the curlers,” said Manning, who has played for four years. “I watch them on TV. I always wanted to see them. I’m happy that it’s at my hometown.”
Scott talked about dreaming of the day she would have to opportunity to curl in the Scotties.
“Each of my eight national championships experiences have been so memorable,” she said. “I can remember walking into each arena for the first time. Taking the first slides on the fresh arena curling ice. The momentum and the excitement and the relationships that filled throughout the week. The nail biting and tense weekend playoff game. To see who will stand at the top of the podium at the end of the week. Be crowned our new canadian champion.”
Kirkham and co-chair Charlie Kohoe thanked many for their support in helping Penticton win the bid. Kohoe made a point to adding that Kirkham was the driving force because of her tireless efforts and determination.
“I’ve never had so many emails before 6:30 a.m. in my life,” joked Kohoe.
TSN/RDS, the official broadcast partner of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2018 Scotties, from the opening round-robin draw to the gold-medal game.
Tickets for the 2018 Scotties will go on sale early in 2017.