History was made in Portage
Most of the volunteers pose for a photo after the Mixed Doubles Curling Trials wrapped up at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie, Man., Sunday afternoon. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)
An event this size doesn’t happen without hundreds of helpers.
After nearly a week of curling, the Mixed Doubles Curling Trials at Stride Place wrapped up Sunday night with John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes being crowned Canada’s team for the 2018 winter Olympics.
“We were kind of the guinea pigs for this event because it hadn’t been done before,” says host committee co-chair, Al Dahl. “We made history here in Portage! We’re all so happy with how the event went thanks to all the volunteers and crowd support.”
Dahl was a little worried at the start of the tournament because the sport of mixed doubles curling is still new to a lot of Canadians, but after the first day, people were clearly buying in. Portage la Prairie is no stranger to big curling events, with the Viterra Men’s Provincial Championship being held in 2017 and the Scotties in 2012, they’ve had a few runs to nail down things like volunteer numbers and the ice surface. Dahl says it wasn’t just the fans that enjoyed Stride Place.
“All the curlers really loved it here too,” adds Dahl. “A lot of the Manitoba curlers have curled here before, and Greg Ewasko does such a great job with the ice that they always want to come back. They couldn’t believe how great of an atmosphere there was.”
People began to fill the seats shortly into the first day of action, and empty seats kept disappearing.
“We don’t know exact numbers right now, but we do know that as far as admissions go we surpassed the Viterra championship,” says Portage Regional Recreation Authority general manager, David Sattler. “It was by a substantial amount too. We came close to a couple sellouts at 1675 seats, and we sold 1620 at the final.”
The trials were a first of a kind and Portage la Prairie couldn’t have asked for a better turn out. Morris and Lawes will now represent Canada, and Portage la Prairie, at the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.