Curling class was in session at the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.
Surrounded by students from Wiltse Elementary School, Heather Nedohin, a skip for one of Canada’s entry to the 2013 World Financial Group Continental Cup, was teaching the group the necessary basics about curling before her teammates arrived for an autograph session.
Nedohin was in Penticton Wednesday afternoon to help promote the 2013 Continental Cup that will rock the South Okanagan Events Centre Jan. 10 to 13. Nedohin loved interacting with the kids, who were right into it. Others were lost in their own world.
“This is what I think I love about our sport,” she said. “People can make noise, whether you’re fans in the stands and don’t know much about the game, it’s an atmosphere that there is something going on.”
Nedohin, who qualified for the Continental Cup by winning the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Red Deer and then won bronze at the Ford World Women’s championship in Lethbridge, said the organizing committee did a good job bringing the youth.
“I remember as a kid — I’m from Fort St. John, B.C. — after the Olympics they would send up the Olympians to do talking,” said Nedohin, who looked up to the late Sandra Schmirler growing up. “It gets your eyes open to possibilities. That’s where it all starts at the grass roots. It was fun.”
Student Kylie Materi said it was “really cool” to meet Nedohin.
While Materi hasn’t played the sport, she does watch and looks forward to seeing Nedohin’s rink in action.
Alexandra Fehr enjoyed meeting Canada’s skip and found her entertaining.
“She helped all the kids with the rocks and told them about curling,” said Fehr. “It was a great opportunity.”
“It was really awesome,” said Kalayna Devlin. “People got to curl and she taught us about the game.”
Nedohin made an impression on the kids and it wasn’t just with her knowledge, but also her attire of a Canada shirt with red and white maple leaf jeans.
When told of the kids’ reaction to her, Nedohin was thrilled. Nedohin said the pants were given by their sponsor Loudmouth. After wearing men’s Norwegian pants last year and having fun with them, Nedohin and her clan are having more fun wearing their Canadian jeans.
“People love them,” she said. “I wear them at charity golf tournaments. Yes, they stand out but they are fun.”
Talking about fun, Nedohin expects her experience at the Continental Cup to be just that.
“This is one of the top events that everybody talks about as players,” she said. “As fans, I’ve had friends go, ‘We finally get to watch you. This is so exciting.’ They just love it. There is the on-ice stuff. There is also the Patch. I’ve heard a lot of people say they love this event because you really get an opportunity to come up, get an autograph, talk to the athletes and do that. As professional as we are, we are very approachable. I think the fans really appreciate that.”
Players also look forward to the Continental Cup, as Nedohin said, because it’s like the Ryder Cup of golf.
“You have your finest in Canada, men and women, plus the States men and women against the world,” said Nedohin, who will be making her debut in the tournament. “With it being the year before the Olympics everybody is fine-tuning. Everybody is wanting to play their best. This year in particular, you are going to see some amazing ability in all of the categories that we get to play. Our fine-tuning is over. It’s time to make shots.”