Skip Sherry Middaugh directs the sweepers during first draw action at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

Skip Sherry Middaugh directs the sweepers during first draw action at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

Game On: Tour Challenge underway in Cranbrook

Cranbrook is buzzing as the largest sporting event the community has ever hosted is underway.

  • Nov. 9, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Barry Coulter

Cranbrook is buzzing as the largest sporting event the community has ever hosted is underway.

The Tour Challenge, to be broadcast by Sportsnet and part of Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, got underway Tuesday, Nov. 8, with practice rounds at Memorial Arena and Western Financial Place, followed by opening ceremonies and the first draw.

Sixty teams from across Canada and the world are in town for the six-day event. The first draws for Tier 1 and Tier 2 kicked off Tuesday evening at the city’s two main arenas, and action got underway in full this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 9. Competition runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Frida; tiebreakers and playoff rounds are Saturday, and women’s and men’s finals — both Tier 1 and Tier 2 — are set for Sunday morning and afternoon.

Playoffs are set for Saturday with the men’s and women’s final set for Sunday.

Teams leave the ice to get ready for competition following the opening ceremonies Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Western Financial Place. Barry Coulter photo

Among the top flight curlers in town is Chelsea Carey and her team of Amy Nixon, Jocelyn Peterman and Laine Peters. Carey was last in Cranbrook in 2012 for the Canada Cup.

“I’m pumped to be back,” Carey told the Townsman. “I’ve got great memories of Cranbrook from the Canada Cup a few years back. We had a great run here, and felt really good in the building. The town was amazing to us and the crowds were great. We’re really looking forward to playing here again.”

Team Carey was just coming off the ice with other teams at the first practice rounds at Western Financial Place.

“It’s usually a little green at first, which is normal,” Carey said of the ice. “It will settle in by tonight and be pretty good. We’re always so spoiled here at the Slams — we get great conditions, and it should allow for some pretty good curling.”

Members of Team Ogasawara from Japan come out of the hacks during warm-ups prior to the first draw Tuesday night. Barry Coulter photo

The games will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet. During the competition more than 100 athletes and thousands of spectators are expected in Cranbrook for the event providing a direct impact on the local economy.

“At the end of the day this is a $1.2 million dollar project that’s in town for five days,” said Paul Heywood, City of Cranbrook Special Events & Marketing Manager. “Those dollars are going to be spent locally. All the sponsors, all 60 teams plus coaches and managers, are going in and spending about $150 a day each.

Destination BC, the Province of BC has recognized this, and has sponsored as well, cause they see the impact the event is going to have on the Kootenay region.”

The event is being supported by a provincial investment of $25,000 through the Tourism Events Program (TEP).

“To have The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Cranbrook is an incredible chance to showcase our beautiful city and region to the entire country,” said  Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “I’m eager to see the benefits to our tourism sector and the local economy. I hope that the Challenge encourages even more of these types of events to come to the Kootenay Rockies.”

A full schedule of the tournament can be found at www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/tour-challenge/2016-tour-challenge-tier-1-draw-schedule/