In search of Olympic dreams
By Sam Corea
KITCHENER, ONTARIO – Twenty-four curling teams came here this week in search of their Olympic dreams and with wins today, two squads will earn spots in the "Roar of the Rings", ie. the Canadian Olympic Trials in Winnipeg next month.
For the others, it’s back to the World Curling Tour circuit and/or the provincial playdowns... and the end of more than three years of hopes and dreams. More finals take place tomorrow, for the two final berths in Winnipeg.
I attended my first major curling event back in December of 2001 in Regina, where Canada’s teams were chosen for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. Back then, I was the unofficial curling ambassador for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid. Twelve years later, I am still working in the sporting event world, this time for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games... and I am also an occasional columnist for The Curling News! So, since Kitchener is just an hour west of Toronto, I made the trip today to take in the finals of the 2013 Road to The Roar, ie. Canadian curling's Olympic Pre-Trials for Sochi 2014.
Every time I attend a sporting event, I look for several things: good signage, friendly volunteers and decent facilities for the working press. I was greeted by Andrew, an enthusiastic accreditation volunteer who took my photo with an iPad and printed off my accreditation badge in less than two minutes. He then walked me to the press-viewing area on the upper level of the Memorial Auditorium. After a quick chat with Canadian Curling Association officials, I began wandering around the arena checking out all the back-of-house and spectator areas.
One thing is key with such sport events – the success depends on volunteers. So far, the volunteers – more than 200 of them from a 130km radius – have walked me around the facility, offered me coffee and donuts and provided me with information, all with a smile!
Now to some results…
Edmonton’s Val Sweeting is a win away from the Trials in Winnipeg. Sweeting claimed a berth in Sunday’s 2:00pm ET qualifier after beating 2010 Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard of Calgary 9-7 in the C-C playoff.
“I felt like a cat out there with nine lives,” said Sweeting afterwards.
Sweeting will take on either Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C. or Renée Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie, Alta. Those two teams will play in the first Trials qualifying game Saturday at 7:00pm ET, with the winner going to Winnipeg and the loser facing Sweeting on Sunday.
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