It was an exciting day for Woolwich on Tuesday, as representatives from the Ontario Curling Association came by to officially announce Elmira as the host of next year’s provincial championships.
The OCA members met with township staff, including Mayor Sandy Shantz, and members of the Elmira & District Curling Club at the Dan Snyder arena which, this time next year, is expected to be packed and roaring with fans.
“We appreciate you taking on the onus to host such an event. It’s fantastic, and to have the community behind these kinds of events is everything,” said the OCA’s Andrew Denny-Petch.
“We’re projecting somewhere between $1.2 and $1.4 million in stimulus, which is excellent. And in a facility like this, it doesn’t get any better for the prestige of these events.”
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Between Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, 2019, the township will be host to a myriad of teams and visitors from all over the province.
“It’s exciting to be able to showcase what we have and all the great things that we have here in Woolwich,” said Shantz, adding that it will be great to be able to highlight the sport of curling as well.
“It’s good for us. It’s good for the [Elmira] club, it’s good for Curling Ontario,” she said.
Susan Martin, chair of the organizing committee for the event and an avid curler with the Elmira club, says people can look forward to some of the biggest names in the sport of curling to be battling it out on Elmira ice.
“We are really hoping and expecting some high-profile teams in Ontario to come to this provincial, such as Rachel Holman, who is on our Olympic team this year,” said Martin.
“She will have to go through provincial qualifiers next year. That would be a highlight for our event if somebody like her or Flaxey on the men’s side, John Epping, Glenn Howard [comes]. So we’re really hoping that we are going to host some very high profile curling teams here.”
While the games are still a long way away, Martin says that the committee is already seeking volunteers to help out with the event.
“Even though the Elmira and District Curling Club is really running this event, we are really hoping to involve the whole community,” she said. “We want to involve service clubs, a number of different of organizations that will benefit from this. We want everybody in the community to be involved.”
To that end, Martin wants to raise awareness of the sport within the community, particularly amongst the township’s youth.
“It’s pretty traditional at this event to invite schools to come to the daytime draws and to give them an exposure to our sport. Maybe if they watched it on TV, now they get to see it live. So definitely schools will be involved,” she said.
Elmira will become the host next year to both the men’s and women’s games, which have been amalgamated into a single event. Following the provincials, the victors of the men’s games will move up to the Tim Horton’s Brier, while the leading women will go on to compete at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.