If the ticket launch was any indication, the hottest ticket in town may not be around very long in Olds.
At a standing-room-only event at the Olds Curling Club to announce the kickoff of ticket sales for the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup, coming to town next spring, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
Close to 100 people crowded in for the launch– with a chance to hear from legend Kevin Martin and current curling star Chelsea Carey, who were both on hand to promote the event.
“I’m amazed. We were here earlier setting up chairs and I said there’s going to be a lot of empty chairs. We had to get more. People were standing,” said event co-chair Nancy McInerney.
“My daughter curls on a very high-level team and we’ve gone to all these events. My husband has been saying for years ‘we need to have this in Central Alberta, people will come and people will love this’. They’re hungry for this kind of stuff, they all watch it on TV and they all love curling. I think it’s going to bear out to be very successful.”
That daughter she speaks of is a relatively well-known name in Central Alberta curling– Red Deer product Jocelyn Peterman, who curls for the Jennifer Jones rink. Her husband is another well-known curling figure in the area, Lowell Peterman, icemaker and manager at the Innisfail Curling Club.
Martin, an Edmonton product with an illustrious curling career and who is now a commentator for Sportsnet said the crowd just shows how passionate curling fans are in the region. He noted that’s why the grand slam tries to stop in small towns and the support could not be more clear.
“For Olds, they’ll be on the stage for a least a couple of weeks. It’ll be all over the world, that is a big deal,” he said.
“You always see a positive impact with registration and membership, but more importantly is the junior memberships. On Saturday and Sunday, the junior rockstars hit the ice… they go on the ice and teach these kids, it’s full on the arena ice before the draws and they just have a blast.”
Carey, who has played in many slam events over her career added that even seeing the turnout Thursday was more than enough motivation to qualify for the five-day event from April 29- May 3.
“It’s more than I ever expected it to be. I’m so impressed with Olds and all the people and the excitement level,” said the 34-year-old two-time Alberta provincial champion.
“Not that I didn’t want to get to this event before, but it makes me want to get here even more just to get to play in front of these people.”
Currently, only two rinks of the 12-team draw on each the male and female have qualified. On the women’s side, Team Einarson and Team Tirinzoni have already qualified. On the men’s side, Team Koe and local favourite Team Bottcher are set to play.
The rest of the field will be determined by the Champions Cup standings throughout the year. While that will bring the best of the best to Olds, Carey said Slam events are a little rowdier than most curling bonspiels and fans can expect the same in May.
“The very best in the world. world-class curling. Whenever we come to slams they do a really good job with the ice, we all know the rocks and are very familiar with them. You will get the best shotmaking you will ever see. There’s nothing that will compare to the 12 teams that will come here,” she said.
“It’s really fun for us. The energy level is a bit different. It’s not a traditional curling crowd. It’s not the quiet, respectful, you don’t want to throw anyone off or a golf clap. It’s loud and raucous and super fun. For us, on the ice, it’s great. Creates a whole different atmosphere.”
Ticket packages, which will include all 14 draws are currently on sale for $227 plus fees and with just under 1000 available, McInerney expects them to sell out like hotcakes and the Olds Multiplex to be packed to the rafters.
“It’s not a ton, the venue is limited because we have five sheets of ice. All we have is the players’ bench, the Pinty’s Lounge and then the stands. We can sell along the railing if we sell out,” she said.
Fans looking for ticket packages can head to www.champions.goigniter.com/events/12496-tournament-package.