KENORA — The stage is nearly set for teams across northern Ontario to face off in provincial playdowns next week at the Kenora Recreation Centre next week.
The teams, which will be competing for the right to represent Northern Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Tracy Stasiuk, a member of the Kenora curling committee, said preparations for the event have been ongoing for more than a year.
“Being able to host the provincials here, men’s and women’s is just huge for us,” Stasiuk said.
Stasiuk notes that seven women’s teams and 11 men’s teams are competing.
Kenora was slated to host the event last January, but because of the Omicron surge, the event had to be cancelled.
To prepare for the event, the Kenora Recreation Centre, which is normally used for public skating and open ice hockey, will be transformed into five sheets of crafted curling ice.
“We are also gathering volunteers for all kinds of jobs including the ice makers, 50/50 draw, people for the door, and officials for the event,” said Stasiuk.
Stasiuk also said that their youth members, the Little Rock curlers, will be escorting the provincial teams into the arena at the opening ceremony. The opening ceremonies will take place on Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m.
The Kenora Curling Committee is also offering public school classes free admission for the opening matches on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Whoever is willing to bring their classes in, we’ll have a cheering section for 9:30 in the morning,” Stasiuk said.
Local sponsors of the event are all back on board including the Kenora Hospitality Alliance, The Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre, and Home Hardware.
"We had input from local businesses for this event," Stasiuk said. "Actually, most of them we had garnered sponsorship from last year. Of course, the event got cancelled, but most of them just said just keep us in mind for next year.”
Two local teams, one from Kenora and the other from Keewatin, have entered this year’s competition.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s going to generate, hopefully, a lot more fans than we might have had at the draws,” reflect Stasiuk.
Notable names set to be at the competition are teams featuring 2022 Scottiest Tournament of Hearts runner-up Krista McCarville and her rink from Thunder Bay’s Fort William Curling Club, as well as 2014 Olympic gold medalist and eight-time Northern Ontario provincial champion Brad Jacobs from Sault Ste. Marie.
Tickets are on sale for $15 for a single-day pass and $75 for the full event pass.
Stasiuk also informed that the entire event will be live-stream on the YouTube channel.
You can find the link on the Kenora Curling Club website.
The pre-competition practice will begin on Tue, Jan. 24. The first draw will begin on Wed. Jan. 25 and Thurs. Jan 26 at 9:30 a.m. (CST), with the following draws at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The finals will take place on Jan. 29.