Nanaimo’s Van Osch rink, here in playdowns action in Hope this month, are among the eight rinks competing at the BC Scotties Women’s Curling Championship at the Victoria Curling Club Jan. 2 to 7. Photo by Greg Laychak

Scotties Tournament of Hearts a stone’s throw away

Penticton ready to host the top women’s curlers in Canada for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts

The Scotties aren’t just an opportunity to watch some great curling, they’re a chance to gain exposure for both the sport and host city Penticton.

“It is a national championship and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is the premier ladies curling event,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “In the past, it has always proven to have great attendance and TSN is going to be here for that whole week.”

To help get people warmed up for the main event (Jan. 27 to Feb. 4), there will be a free to the public wildcard event on Friday evening, featuring the top two Canadian teams who failed to advance from provincial playdowns. It kicks off the Scotties with an intense game.

Related: Field set for Scotties Tournament of Hearts

“It’s a huge game. The winners get to enter the championship event and the losers ‘ season is done. It is about as sudden death as you can get without being in the final,” said Curling Canada event manager Neil Houston, who added ticket sales for the Scotties are going well, hitting the 50,000 attendance mark before the national event even starts.

The wildcard features Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, 2016 Scotties champ, and Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson. The play opens at SOEC at 6:30 p.m. While the event is free, you will need to pick up a ticket from the SOEC box office.

“It is bound to be a really good game because we have a couple of good teams in there,” said Charlie Cohoe, co-chair of the hosting committee. “We think probably some of the people that come to the Friday game for free might just turn around and end up buying another ticket somewhere else through the next 10 days of competition.”

Related: Friday night curling showdown for Scotties

Cohoe thinks the buzz will continue to build as the competition heats up, and the free Friday game should be a big boost.

“Naturally, we would like to fill the stands with as many people as we can. It is a great opportunity,” said Cohoe. “The whole event is about enhancing the game of curling and creating exposure. “

With people coming from across Canada to watch, it is anticipated the minimum economic impact on the city will be $6 million. Jakubeit is hoping not only will the community come out to support the Scotties and enjoy the elite level curling, but takes pride in hosting the event.

Related: Song penned for Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Penticton

One business that is doing exactly that is Peaches Lingerie on Main Street. They’ve built a Scotties-themed front window that includes curling memorabilia, lots of red items (for the event’s colour) but also a mannequin sporting a skirt and bra made from various paper goods.

“My boss, Christina (Conquergood) she made a bra out of Scott towels, and put in little rosettes made from Scotties Kleenex and then she made this five-tiered little skirt,” said window designer Val Lund.

The other mannequins are also Scotties-themed, at least in colours. There is also an antique curling clock, a curling rock and some old-fashioned curling brooms “from eons ago.” Lund said there is going to be a lot of people in town for the Scotties and they want to show them Penticton has a colourful and vibrant downtown.

Related: Scotties curling fans will have a shot at new vehicle

“We support the downtown, we want people to come downtown and we like to make our windows interesting,” said Lund. “Like everything we do, Peachfest, Canada Day, we make the effort to support what is going on.”

Jakubeit said the community support helps spark interest in the event among potential fans.

“I think if they go there, they will become addicted and really have a good time,” said Jakubeit.

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