The Pancontinental Curling Championships will be held in Lacombe, Alta., next season – and three well-known Canadian curlers have banded together to try to reimagine and rejuvenate the event.
Darren Moulding, Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson are part of the organizing committee that brought the annual international event to the Alberta city from October 27 to November 2, 2024.
“Lacombe is a well-located curling hotbed, with a rich curling tradition. It’s the perfect location to host this event,” Molding told CBC Sports. “The facility is ideal and well maintained, with good proximity to two international airports.
“Lacombe is a friendly and generous place. The curling rink has all the modern amenities one could ask for and the community strongly supports all kinds of sporting events.
The Lacombe Pan-Continental Curling Championships will mark the third time the event has been held. It was voted on by World Curling member associations in 2021 as a way to improve competition and participation in the Americas and Pacific-Asia regions. It also serves as a qualifying event for the women’s and men’s world championships.
The inaugural tournament was held at the Markin MacPhail Center in Calgary – Brad Gushue won gold for Canada and Kerri Einarson won bronze. Last year’s event took place in Kelowna, British Columbia, and was the subject of heavy criticism from Gushue, who was once again Canada’s representative, after he felt that the competing athletes were overlooked.
Gushue said the event was embarrassing for the sport and the competitors, citing a number of issues related to players having limited space to warm up and practice, largely due to the decision to ‘hold the event in a curling club rather than in an arena. equipped with more space.
“There’s a level of incompetence that needs to be addressed,” Gushue told CBC Sports last November.
“The way the WCF went this week, it’s a joke. It’s a big step backwards from the event we had last year. I don’t understand why they chose that way. I understand giving teams a chance to qualify for the world championships and so on, I understand that. But I think there are different ways to do that.
WATCH l Gushue expresses frustration over disorganization of 2023 event:
Canadian curlers take action
World Curling officials and other curlers who wanted better for the event and the sport were listening, and that’s when Molding, Carey and Hodgson took action.
In conversations between the three, they all recognized a huge opportunity for the event to grow into something big, attracting traditional fans of the game while ensuring newcomers also feel welcome. They have looked at every detail to ensure that players, volunteers and supporters are welcomed with respect and first-class hospitality.
They put together a full field including games at the local 1,600-seat arena, the Gary Moe Auto Group sports complex and a 500-seat Lacombe curling club. Molding is president, Carey looks after player amenities specifically and Hodgson will oversee marketing and promotion.
The arena previously hosted the 2014 Alberta men’s provincial championship and the 2015 women’s provincial championship. Molding says there was enough room for broadcast cameras and media to cover the events – which was a problem in Kelowna.
The Lacombe Curling Club has six courts to play on with two levels so fans can watch the action. And just a few years ago, the club made a significant investment in new Canada Curling Stones in 2021.
“Working with World Curling has been a great experience. The cooperation, support and dialogue made this event special. We have a wonderful committee committed to bringing this world-class event to life,” said Moulding.
Moulding, who coached India in previous events, says the Pan Continental can be much more than it is now. It works closely with World Curling to ensure all needs of competing athletes are met and that the event helps grow the game internationally.
Tickets are expected to go on sale February 20.
“While coaching the Indian team, I was inspired by this event. Growing curling around the world gives more meaning to my life, being able to share my passion for the sport and work with people who care about me to heart,” Molding said.