Story by Matthew Abrey
Special to the Western News
The World Curling Tour has descended on Penticton this weekend, featuring some of the finest male curlers in the game.
The four-day Ashley Home Store Curling Classic is considered an Olympic sneak peek in the curling community, as eight of the 24 teams competing at this stop on the tour are ranked among the top 10 teams in the world.
Of the 24-team field, eight will advance to the qualifying matches on Sunday. A total prize purse of $66,000 is available to the field.
With hundreds of fans selling out the event, the 63-year-old curling club is at “full capacity,” said Cathy Jones, the Curling Club manager.
Been a struggle so far in Penticton! Back on the horse vs @TeamRCarruthers in 30mins. Great spiel. Great ice.
— Team Ulsrud (@TeamUlsrud) November 4, 2017
Jones added that the event has drawn fans from the Okanagan, around B.C. as well as Alberta. Because of the success of this year’s event, Jones confirmed that the Ashley Home Store Curling Classic will now be an annual event, and the WCT is expected to return next season, again in the late fall.
“We’ve had great respect from all the teams, letting us know that, bar none, this is the best event that they’ve ever been to on this tour,” said Jones. “It has really put Penticton on the curling map.”
Penticton Curling Club, Volunteers, and event organizers take a bow. What a great event to be a part of. #WorldCurlingTour
— Colin Hodgson (@C_hodgy) November 4, 2017
Niklas Edin, skip of the world second-ranked Swedish rink, echoed Jones’ claims.
“It’s a really nice spot, the ice has been really good so far, and the whole town has been good,” said Edin.
“It’s really friendly here,” added Edin’s third, Oskar Eriksson. “The fans appreciate every game and every player, which makes it really nice to play here.”
— World Curling Tour (@worldcurltour) November 3, 2017
The Ashley Home Store Curling Classic continues on Sunday with games starting at 8:45 a.m. and wraps up Monday with the semifinals at 8:45 a.m. and the final at 11:45 a.m.