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A big day for Sault Ste. Marie and local curling scene

It was announced Monday morning that the Soo Curlers Association facility will host the 2014 Ontario Scotties tournament.
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It was announced Monday morning that the Soo Curlers Association facility will host the 2014 Ontario Scotties tournament.

Ten of the best women’s teams from across Ontario will compete at the club from January 5 to January 12, 2014, for the right to represent Ontario at the 2014 Scotties Tournament in Virden, Manitoba.

Starting in 2015, Northern Ontario will, for the first time, send its own team to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Event Chair Eric Kirby, shown with Soo Curlers’ Bid Committee members Sandra Randa and Anne Harris, told SooToday.com: “When we were applying for the bid we couldn’t be told how many communities would be applying, but the word from the Northern Ontario Curling Association was that there were ‘many.’ There were at least five, including Thunder Bay and North Bay.”

Kirby said the fact that Sault Ste. Marie has hosted major tournaments in recent years, such as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Brier and other major curling events, definitely helped make Soo Curlers’ bid successful.

Kirby added the event “should attract a good number of people to Sault Ste. Marie. 

There are 10 teams and they usually bring in family and friends. 

We will set up on the ice for about 700 people, and with the balcony and lounge area, we can probably put about a thousand spectators in here.”

Soo Curlers placed their bid to host the Ontario Scotties in early January in time for a January 18 deadline, and were informed their bid was successful January 31, a brief waiting period in comparison to bidding processes for other sports events.

Kirby thanked Tourism Sault Ste. Marie officials, on hand for Monday’s announcement, stating they played “an invaluable role in putting together the bid. They made us look really, really good and it paid off.”

Comfort Suites will be the host hotel for the tournament and are associated with Soo Curlers as a sponsor.

The event will be financially supported by the Northern Ontario Curling Association and corporate sponsor Kruger Products, which manufactures Scotties tissues and other paper products.

Anne Harris said a banquet will be prepared for the teams during the tournament, along with other activities at the club, but Kirby noted that because each team plays two games per day, “They probably won’t have a lot of recreational time.”

Kirby said events such as these generate a lot of local enthusiasm for curling, and lead to an increase in membership at Soo Curlers. 

He said current membership stands between 500 and 550 people.

Teams will be playing in several regional championships before the Ontario Scotties in 2014, but Kirby said “Hopefully we’ll have a local team in the actual event.”

The Sault EDC issued the following news release today:

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Sault Ste. Marie hosting the 2014 Ontario Scotties
 
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON (February 4, 2013) – Another major curling event is coming to town.

The Soo Curlers Association, in partnership with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Economic Development Corp., is pleased to announce that the community has been chosen to host the 2014 Ontario Scotties, the provincial women’s curling championships.
 
Following a competitive bid process, Sault Ste. Marie was awarded the event by the Northern Ontario Curling Association (NOCA). As a result, from January 5 to 12 next year, 10 of the top women’s curling teams from across Ontario will compete at the Soo Curlers Association for the right to represent the province in Virden, Man. at the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the national women’s curling championship, which the Sault hosted in 2010.
 
“I’m pleased and confident that this prestigious event will be just as successful as past championships hosted by Soo Curlers Association,” said Leslie Kerr, executive director of the NOCA. “This will be another tremendous opportunity for the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie to welcome the best women’s curling teams from across the province, along with their families and friends.”
 
The 2014 Ontario Scotties is being chaired by Eric Kirby, a longtime member of the Soo Curlers Association.

With an extensive curling background, he has served on club’s board of directors for seven years, six of those as its president.

Kirby has also been an on-ice official during various levels of competition and has volunteered for both provincial and national curling events.
 
Meanwhile, with a few hundred curlers and visiting fans anticipated for the 2014 Ontario Scotties, the event is expected to inject upwards of $250,000 into the local economy.

With the financial impact for the community, the tourism division of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. was pleased to partner with the Soo Curlers Association to bid on the championships.
 
“Our partnership with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the Economic Development Corp. has helped us go after some major curling events,” said Kirby, referring to the 1990 Brier, 2010 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, 2012 Grand Slam of Curling and – following today’s announcement – the 2014 Ontario Scotties. “Our collaborative effort has been a recipe for success, and we look forward to continuing our partnership for years to come.”
 
These comments were echoed by Ian McMillan, executive director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

“We are certainly pleased to have been successful in our bid to host this prestigious championship,” he said. “The Soo Curlers Association has once again shown that they are highly supportive in making our city a major destination for events such as this one. The tourism industry is fortunate to have partners like this, which enables us to continue to bring increased tourist visitation and spending to our community.”
 
Ticket packages for the 2014 Ontario Scotties event will go sale in the fall of 2013.

To volunteer for the event, or for further information, please contact the Soo Curlers Association at 705-254-6174.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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