The loss of provincial curling events hurts many in the community

The latest marquee event in the Estevan area to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the Scotties-Tankard, the two provincial curling championships that were to happen in the Energy City early next year. 

The Viterra Scotties women’s provincials and the SaskTel Tankard men’s provincials, to be held back-to-back over 10 days at Affinity Place, would have been the latest high-profile curling events to happen here, joining the 2018 Tankard and the 2018 Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling.

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Local curling fans were no doubt looking forward to watching the two top curling events in Saskatchewan at a warm, beautiful venue in their own backyard. And it would have been yet another stepping stone for our city as we work towards having even bigger curling events here.

In normal years, they’re also great opportunities to get youths hooked on the sport, with the Junior Stars initiative that matches up young people with the teams, and field trips for school students to watch the morning draws.

Obviously, with COVID-19, this would have been a very different event even if provincials did go ahead. You wouldn’t have had the school kids being bused in, and who knows how many people would have been allowed to attend. Affinity Place would have looked really empty with just 150 people for the men’s and women’s finals. 

The loss of these curling events won’t just hurt the local curling community.

These events create a significant economic spinoff for our region. They bring people here. In the case of the Scotties-Tankard, it would draw not only the curlers, but their family members, curling officials, media and numerous others to Estevan. They’d be staying in our hotels, eating at our restaurants and enjoying the other amenities our city has to offer. 

And it’s a showcase for our community, and our great venue, Affinity Place.

Nobody will argue for hosting a marquee event without fans present, unless it’s in a bubble. But even if the Scotties and the Tankard would have gone ahead without anybody in attendance, there would have at least been a spinoff for the community.

We’ve missed out on a lot over the past nine months due to this pandemic. At the start of the year, we were looking forward to a pretty busy year, with our fair and rodeo on the same weekend for the first time this century, a weekend double header for the Dakota Classic Modified Tour at the Estevan Motor Speedway for the first time, the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association provincial convention, events such as the Rafferty Rumble and so much more. 

Obviously, these events are lower on the priority scale than lost jobs or closed businesses, or families who have suffered through illness or even death for a loved one due to COVID.

And there’s the tremendous toll the pandemic has taken on those in care facilities in our community. While the staff members of these facilities have done great work in trying to meet the needs of residents for the past nine month, the residents are missing the in-person interactions with their loved ones.

Technology has helped to bridge the gap, but it’s not the same.

Still, the loss of these big events hurts.

We’ll get to have the Scotties and the Tankard one day. It will be a great event for the city. And we’ll get to marvel at the great shots of these skilled athletes, who also tend to be pretty humble people.

It’s another thing we get to look forward to somewhere down the road. 

It doesn’t look like it will be in 2022, since the curling club doesn’t want to infringe on the 2022 Centennial Cup national junior A hockey Tournament. But we’ll get the top curlers in some day.

And it will lead to bigger curling events that will give us the opportunity to showcase our community on a grander scale.

In the meantime, all we can do is lament what could have been, due to something completely out of our control.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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