Women's curling championship underway in Calgary, without spectators or watch parties

·2 min read
The Women's Curling National Championship underway in Calgary, but there will be no spectators in stands or watch parties at local curling rinks this year.
The Women's Curling National Championship underway in Calgary, but there will be no spectators in stands or watch parties at local curling rinks this year.

(Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit)

While the country's top women curlers are vying for the national title in the Calgary bubble Friday night, there won't be any watch parties at local curling rinks this year.

The Calgary Curling Club is usually an exciting place to be when major tournaments take place, but this time it's eerily quiet due to COVID-19 rules.

Daniel Bubola, the general manager, says it's a reminder at how different this year has been.

"We're happy that we get to watch curling but we're bitter that we are missing how much of it we didn't get to participate in," he said.

Daniel Bubola, the general manager at the Calgary Curling Club, says major tournaments are usually an exciting time at the facility.
Daniel Bubola, the general manager at the Calgary Curling Club, says major tournaments are usually an exciting time at the facility.

Daniel Bubola, the general manager at the Calgary Curling Club, says major tournaments are usually an exciting time at the facility.

"We often would have some of our members being volunteers at these events … in some cases, have some of the athletes coming through our club to try and get some practice before the event started."

Instead, the ice is gone and Bubola is starting the process of refunding hundreds of members.

"So far we have had a lot of our members already show their generosity and tell us that they will forego their refund and that we can keep it and that is making a huge difference."

Out of Curling Alberta's 174 member rinks, only a handful have been able to remain open.

Jill Richard, a spokesperson for Curling Alberta says revenues from online 50/50 sales will be going back into community rinks.

"We're hoping that the public and all of our fans recognize the potential for this to be very meaningful for our curling clubs in such a difficult time," she said.

Over at the Garrison Curling Club, Steve Cloutier, the general manager says he's hoping to offer spring curling if the province moves forward with its step-by-step approach

"It was worth waiting at least until we see if step two gets launched on time, then we only have to wait another week or so," he said.

He adds that members at their facility have also chosen to deny their refunds and either donate it to the club or push them to the 2021/2022 season.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that when we start to get our formal responses from our members as to what they want to do, that we're not going to face a huge cash crunch," he said.

In the meantime, the facility is offering one-on-one curling instruction as well as opportunities for households to come down and throw some rocks.

If you want to tune into the 2021 championships, it starts Friday and wraps up Feb. 28.