Curling is making a slow climb back to popularity after a post-pandemic slump, and locals hope hosting provincials will help bolster interest.
The 2024 B.C. wheelchair, men’s and women’s curling championships are set to rock the Archie Browning Sports Centre in January.
“It should be excellent curling. Winners go to Canadian finals … you never know they could be on the world stage. I expect it should be good curling,” said Alan Teasdale, president of the Esquimalt Curling Club that hosts the event alongside the Victoria Curling Club and Curl BC. “The event is great when there are lots of people in the stands.”
A total of 23 teams – 12 men’s, eight women’s and three wheelchair – compete over the five days. This historic event marks the first occasion where all three championships have been held at the same time in the same venue.
“I think it’s going to raise the interest in the community again of curling,” Teasdale said. “We lost a lot during COVID and it’s just starting to come back this year.”
Before the interruptions of 2020, club closures at Glen Meadows in North Saanich and Juan de Fuca in Colwood meant more players travelling to play in Victoria and Esquimalt – boosting membership.
“We have one curling community in town and we have two clubs. We don’t care where you curl as long as you curl,” he said.
There are learn-to-curl programs at the Victoria club on Quadra and Esquimalt hopes to build on theirs. But during the provincial competition, the organizing committee found sponsors to help promote the sport to local students.
“Even though curling is going on in the curling rink we freed up some ice. They’re going to bus some of the school kids in,” Teasdale said.
Then they’ll head in and watch the best in the province battle for B.C. titles.
It’s among the ways he hopes the community can welcome new faces.
“We have one curling community in town and we have two clubs. We don’t care where you curl as long as you curl,” he said. “It’s one of those lifelong sports you can do from your teens into your 90s it’s one of those sports you can pick up and leave and come back.”
Provincials run Jan. 23 to 28 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, 1151 Esquimalt Rd.
Learn more, including how to volunteer, online at curlbc.ca.