The best curlers on the planet will rock St. Albert at the 2011 Continental Cup.
“We’re bringing the world to St. Albert,” announced Mike Howes, the host committee chair, at Wednesday’s press conference.
The Jan. 13 to 16 international curling spectacle at Servus Credit Union Place will also kick off the City of St. Albert’s 150th birthday celebrations, almost to the day it was founded — Jan.14, 1861.
“It’s pretty huge. It’s the biggest thing that has certainly come to Servus Place and it’s probably the biggest event we’ve had in St. Albert in our 150 years. I can’t think of anything else where we’ve had 28 hours of national television coverage and that’s very exciting,” Howes said. “All across Canada they will know it’s St. Albert’s birthday. It’s going to be very big.”
As part of the Canadian Curling Association’s (CCA) Season of Champions, TSN will provide live coverage of every minute of the Continental Cup. The Ryder Cup format brings together 48 curlers on 12 teams. There are six teams (three men’s and three women’s) for both Team World and Team North America (four teams from Canada and two from the United States rinks). If the Canadian men’s and women’s teams at the Olympics medal and the national reps at the 2010 worlds medal, they would qualify for St. Albert.
The curlers compete in various competitions: regular team games, mixed doubles, singles, mixed skins and skins games. Each segment awards points for wins or ties. The first team to reach 200 points is the winner. The series is tied at three apiece between the World and North America.
“Great shotmaking and a great competition; that’s the best way to sum up the Continental Cup,” said Warren Hansen, the CCA event management and media director. “Many of the teams participating at the Olympics in Vancouver I’m sure will be here.”
Performance Arena will be transformed into a three-sheet curling venue for the four-day event.
“We continue to demonstrate our willingness and our ability to showcase the city to the world but also to make sure that we reinforce this particular facility to the community,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse. “Without council’s commitment and without our staff’s commitment to make sure that Servus Place was built in the first place, we wouldn’t have this ability to put these kind of events on.
“Without major sponsors we also don’t make these things happen either.”
Several months ago, it was announced the CCA and the World Curling Federation had committed to a long-term continuation of the Continental Cup and that World Financial Group would become the title sponsor.
The World Financial Group is major sponsor of the legendary Ferbey Four.
“Our relationship with the Ferbeys and our exposure to curling made us very interested in taking that to the next level in terms of supporting the sport,” Williams said. “Curling is a really community focused sport and we’re a community focused organization, so we saw this natural tie-in between the two.
“What we also look for is exposure for the sport in a much larger way so we’re hoping this event will get more people intrigued with curling to play it.”
There is no Continental Cup this year because of the Olympic trials. The previous six editions were all in Canada, starting in 2002 at Regina and the last competition was 2008 at Camrose.
“This is a growing event and we’re looking for strong curling communities that have good facilities, but not that large, and this filled the bill for us. We were looking for something in Alberta or Saskatchewan for 2011 and it was brought to my attention by the Alberta Curling Federation this was a site to consider. We did a survey, talked to people here and everything worked out,” said Hansen, who toured Servus Place last June. “Our events don’t really go through a bid process. People show an interest in hosting or we, through a survey, decided on further sites that might be appropriate for certain events and we approach people to see if they would be interested in hosting them so it doesn’t really have a bid process that many events do.”
When the St. Albert Curling Club (SACC) discovered the Continental Cup needed a host venue for 2011, the wheels were put into motion to seal the deal.
“With all the support the curling club has received from the community, the business community and the City of St. Albert, especially recently with our renovations, we would like to think this is a small thank you to the city for all that support,” said Howes, a SACC director, in reference to the $2.4 million renovations to the front end of the club’s six sheet facility that will begin in March and wrap up in the fall. “We’re just pumped about having Vic Rauter on TSN standing in front of our new curling rink and showing that off.”
Howes thanked the CCA and the world and provincial curling federations for their confidence in staging the Continental Cup in St. Albert
“We will certainly not let you down.”
After St. Albert was given the stamp of approval, Howes spent the last month putting together a committee of 28 to help run the show.
“We had no trouble getting our board together for this. Everybody is overenthusiastic,” he said
His support staff includes individuals associated with Roar of the Rings, starting Sunday at Rexall Place, as well as the last world men’s championship and Brier held in Edmonton
Between 250 and 300 volunteers will be needed as the host committee follows a template put in place by the CCA for the event.
“Right from our organizational chart to the duties that each person has to look after, it makes it pretty easy,” Howes said.
Full event ticket packages will go on sale in mid-February.