A “great opportunity” faces Matt Tolley as he will compete in the World Curling Tour Ashley Home Store Curling Classic in Penticton, Nov. 3 to 5.
Among the teams Tolley’s rink will play is Kevin Koe, who holds the No. 5 position in the WCT standings, is a 2016 World Champion, silver medal winner in the 2017 Brier and his rink has also qualified for the 2018 Olympic Curling Trials.
“I have never played against them. We’re really excited to kind of go out and give them a run for their money,” said Tolley, also on the local organizing committee for the event. “Our expectation is just to be competitive with these guys. Even if we don’t come out on the winning side, as long as we kind of have fun doing it, and again play against some of the best in the world, it’s a pretty unique opportunity.”
Tolley is the only one from Penticton on his rink and they have played two events this season. The most recent was a loss in the final, but because there were only eight teams, it wasn’t a sanctioned WCT event, which needs a minimum of 12. Coming out pointless was disappointing for the team.
The situation facing men’s curling is what Tolley said makes the Penticton event so special. Aside from a 16-team competition in Abbotsford, the Penticton event will be the largest men’s competition in B.C. this season. Tolley said that the Abbotsford event also won’t have the calibre of players coming to Penticton.
“That’s the reason we kind of took on this event is because we want to try and foster men’s curling in B.C.,” he said. “I think that is really important.”
Tolley believes his team is in a good place to perform well in the Ashley Home Store Curling Classic. Tolley’s team won’t be the only B.C. rink competing. There will be nine others, which he said is a very good number. The biggest B.C. team, led by John Morris, unfortunately won’t be playing because they have pre-Olympic trials days after the Penticton event.
The WCT offers a $66,000 prize purse with eight of the 24 teams qualifying for the playoffs. Tolley said the WCT will feature three teams from Sweden, two from Switzerland, and one from both Scotland and Norway (Thomas Ulsrud). Among Sweden’s teams is their Olympic squad led by Niklas Edin.