Local curlers have extra motivation to practice before mid-November.
The 2008 Skookum World Curling Tour Cash Spiel, part of the North American tour, will be taking place November 20-23 in Whitehorse with increased prize money. This year’s prize structure is $50,000, up from last year’s $30,000.
“From a club perspective, it’s great exposure for the game,” said Jon Solberg, business manager of the Whitehorse Curling Club, the spiel’s host. “One of our missions — our mandates — is to promote the sport of curling within the community, to all ages as a fun activity and a great winter sport.
“What it really means to us is that, for us to support our membership and our competitive curlers, it gives them an opportunity to play against top competition across Canada,” said Solberg. “So they have an opportunity to get to the next level, to learn from curling against these people.”
Organizers are aiming for 24 teams (or rinks), four more than last year and eight more than two years ago. So far the spiel has 16 registered rinks, including three from Seattle, rinks from both NWT and Nunavut, three from Alaska, as well as some local entries.
“One of the people that is coming is Chris Schille, who played with Brad Gushue,” said Karen Mahoney, public relations for the World Curling Tour.
“He’s been to the Briar and he’s now playing with two-time world junior champion Charlie Thomas.”
The 2008 spiel is part of the men’s tour, but is open to women’s and mixed teams.
“We might have a ladies team this year,” said Mahoney. “But at the moment, unless you have a women’s event, they don’t get points for the women’s tour. So some women haven’t come up until we have a women’s section. So right now it’s going to be mixed.”
However, according to Mahoney, a local ladies team and a local girls team will likely be competing.
Many of the spiel’s detail have yet to be determined. Organizers must wait to see how many rinks register before they can decide on a draw format.
“It depends how many teams we get, as to how they will decide how teams advance to the final round,” said Mahoney. “There will be a round robin in pools and they’ll take so many depending how many pools we have, to go (into the next round) for the big money.”
The spiel is the third such event for Whitehorse, having hosted one each of the last two years. As in the past, it is an opportunity for the Whitehorse Curling Club to showcase its world-class facility.
“Bar-none, it’s some of the best ice in Canada,” said Mahoney. “Our teams are spoiled because you curl on this ice and it’s beautiful … People come up here and are amazed.”