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Curling bonspiel welcomes some of world's best

One of the Airdrie Curling Club’s marquee events took place over the Thanksgiving weekend, when the club hosted the 2019 McKee Homes Fall Curling Classic.

The annual bonspiel, which began in 2013, also acts as a leg of the World Curling Tour (WCT). This year’s tournament featured 18 men’s teams, including rinks from China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

“It’s a high-level quality of curling, for sure,” said Airdrie Curling Club manager Don Delair. “It was nice to see, in the semi-finals – four teams left – they were all young teams.”

Delair added the timing of the McKee Homes Classic was ideal, as the bonspiel was sandwiched between other WCT events in Edmonton and Medicine Hat.

“It’s a little bit more of a draw for those international teams to come over and get three decent bonspiels in a row,” he said.

Team Harty, a rink from Calgary, defended its 2018 McKee Homes Classic title Oct. 14 by defeating Team Glukhov 5-2 in the final draw. The Calgarians kept the Russian rink – ranked 43rd in the world by the WCT – to just two points in the fifth end.

While some teams came from as far away as Asia to compete, the Airdrie Super League was also represented, according to Delair.

Local rinks included Team Goehring, which won two and lost three of its draws, and Team Slushinski, which narrowly lost its quarterfinal 8-7 to Team Adams. The Airdrie rink ended the bonspiel with a 3-3 record.

“[Team Goehring] lost out on Monday night, but they had a good spiel,” Delair said. “[Team Slushinski] played in Edmonton the week before and made it to the semi-finals – they’re a very good team.”

The bonspiel came with a $14,400 purse, he noted, which was divvied up according to the teams’ final placements. The champion won $3,400, the second-place rink took home $2,600, the semi-finalists each claimed $1,800 and the qualifiers earned $1,200 each.

The 2019-20 season will be a busy one for the Airdrie Curling Rink, according to Delair. The next big event will be the club’s U15 and U18 bonspiel Nov. 8 to 10, he said, and added the event is already full, with 32 teams set to compete.

Along with that bonspiel, he said the club is excited to host the curling competition at the 2020 Alberta Winter Games in mid-February, as well as the 2020 Alberta provincial championships for the masters age group – 60 and older – from March 4 to 8.

He said the Airdrie Curling Club’s superb ice conditions are what allow the venue to host first-rate events.

“These teams can make every shot, but if the ice is bad, it can take away some of their shot-making capabilities or it can even out the playing field,” he said.

He added feedback was positive from the participants that competed at the McKee Homes Classic.

“Everyone who came said they want to come back next year, and we’re looking forward to doing this again,” he said.


Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, sports/RCMP reporter
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