As the Winter Olympics near, excitement is building in Eckville to see hometown hero Mellisa Hollingsworth do her thing.
And thanks to a Chamber of Commerce-organized event, residents can get together at the Eckville Curling Club to catch the action as Hollingsworth barrels down the course in women’s skeleton on Feb. 18 and 19.
“We wouldn’t be surprised if we had a full house there, and it’s the more the merrier,” said town councillor and Chamber president Grant van Boeschoten.
Van Boeschoten said that during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, residents crammed into a local antiques shop/café to catch the action. But that was at an odd time in the morning, van Boeschoten said, because of the time differences.
This go around, he expects even more community involvement, since Hollingsworth’s races will be shown late in the afternoon.
Eckville Mayor Helen Posti said she’s been barraged with time-zone questions lately from locals worried they’ll mix up the one-hour difference and miss Hollingsworth’s runs.
She suggested that the number of signatures on a banner passed around the community and handed to Hollingsworth’s father last week — now to hang in the Olympic Village in Vancouver — just goes to show how many locals are big Mellisa boosters.
“The last time, when she won bronze at Torino, she rode in the rodeo parade,” said Posti. “She makes sure she goes to all the schools and she’s just an absolutely wonderful girl. We’re just so proud that she’s let us be a part of that.”
“It’s good for the kids,” said van Boeschoten. “
They know they can do anything … it doesn’t matter where you’re from.”
Sledding action starts at 5 p.m. on Feb. 18, with the first two women’s heats, followed at 7:30 p.m. with the men’s heats. Finals for both men and women are on Feb. 19, with racing starting at 4:45 p.m. The Eckville Curling Club, where the viewing takes place, will open at 4 p.m. both days. This free event is open to the public. Free soda and coffee will be provided, and a concession will be open.