It’s been several months in the making but the final steps of preparation will put Affinity Place at the centre of the Canadian curling world for nearly a week.
The Home Hardware Canada Cup is making its home here from Wednesday through Sunday, with multiple Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts winners all over the place, as well as Olympic gold medalists.
“The journey, the dream, the reality is just about here,” said event co-chair Helen Fornwald a couple of days ago. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Curling Canada officials started trickling into Estevan late last week to start the ice transformation from Festival of Trees to curling facility.
“We have a timeframe of 48 hours to work around the clock non-stop,” said Fornwald.
The event will feature rinks skipped by Olympic champions Brad Gushue, Brad Jacobs and Jennifer Jones, and will have national champions like Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan, and national junior champion Matt Dunstone as well.
All games will be 10 ends in this competition. But there will be a new tweak for the timing in that the first five ends will have four minutes of thinking time and the last five ends will have four minutes, 15 seconds of thinking time, rather than the running clock curling fans have seen for years.
The stones for this event were used at the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier in Regina.
As for the cash payouts, teams will get $2,000 for each round robin win, with third place for both men and women earning an additional $5,000, second place $9,000 and the winners for each men’s and women’s teams getting $14,000.
The finals are set for 2 p.m. Sunday for the women’s final and 7 p.m. for the men’s final. The winners of both the men’s and women’s events will get invitations to the 2019 Canada Cup, the 2021 Road to the Roar pre-trials and a 2019-2020 World Cup of Curling event.
There will be over 1,000 students attending draws Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and they’ll be from not only Estevan, but surrounding communities of Lampman and Weyburn.
“This is an excellent opportunity for the students to come and witness some world-class curling,” Fornwald said. “We’re really fortunate that Curl Sask is sponsoring the transportation to get them here.”
There will also be 60 Young Stars present at the draws from ages eight to 18. They’re from Warman, Wadena, Lampman, North Portal, Swift Current, Pilot Butte, Avonlea and Wilcox, among other places.
The 50-50s are being sold every draw and only at Affinity Place.
The World Famous Patch at the Wylie Mitchell building will have Cool Curling tables, live screening of the curling from the rink starting Wednesday at noon and there will also be live entertainment there in the evening Friday and Saturday.
“There’s food all the time,” she said. “We just remind everybody that the beverages in the patch are credit card only and that’s a directive of Curling Canada.”
Autograph sessions will be happening at the patch also with members of the teams present. And there will also an opportunity for the public to get a photo with the Canada Cup.
An event like this wouldn’t be able to be run without some significant help from volunteers.
“Our goal was 150 volunteers and we were able to get 186 volunteers,” Fornwald said. Tuesday night, they were scheduled to have a volunteer appreciation supper at the Wylie-Mitchell building.
The committee will be making sure, along with Curling Canada, that everything runs smoothly from an organizational standpoint.
This is the 14th such Canada Cup of Curling, and it has been staged in Kamloops, B.C., Yorkton, Medicine Hat, Alta., Cranbook B.C., Moose Jaw, Camrose, Alta., Grande Prairie, Alta., and in Brandon, Man. most recently in 2016 where Reid Carruthers and Jennifer Jones won. It wasn’t held last year due to the Roar of the Rings competition.