I spent much of the Thanksgiving weekend at the Royal City Curling Club, volunteering and watching some curling.
For the last 12 years, that weekend has played host to the Westcoast Curling Classic, which is a pretty big event in the world of Curling, and really should be a bigger deal to the rest of New Westminster. This is an annual event that brings the best curlers in the world together to compete right here in New West for a big pot of money. Last year’s final was an epic battle between the reigning Canadian and World Champion team (Kevin Koe) and the reigning Olympic Gold medallists (team Kevin Martin). This year, Kevin Martin returned to the final after dispatching 6-Time Canadian and 4-Time World Champion Randy Ferbey in the semis, and won the final over multiple Grand Slam winner Mike McEwen. So saying the “best in the world” is not hyperbole.
I can’t think of another annual sporting event in the Lower Mainland that, every year, brings the best in the world to compete, and it happens right here in New West.
This year I was volunteering as a driver, shuttling out-of-town teams between the hotel and the Club, or wherever. Last night I gave Randy Ferbey’s team a ride to the airport just after they lost a close semi-final to the eventual champions. If they were disappointed with not winning the $17,000 top prize, they didn’t show it.
The most unusual occurrence for me this year was going down to the New Westminster SkyTrain Station at 11:00 at night to pick up Kevin Martin’s team (returning from the BC Lions Game via the most logical transportation route). Interesting that the mixed bag of fellows that hang out around the New West Skytrain late on a Saturday night didn’t recognize the Olympic Gold Medallists walking through the station. Not curling fans, I guess.
That got me thinking about the value of the football game. If you want to go see the Lions play, you can pay $40 for a ticket in the upper bowl, 100m from the field, pay $9 for a beer in a plastic cup, $7 for a hot dog, and get your three hours of entertainment under a $600 Million roof you already paid for.
In comparison, for $15 you can get a Monday pass to the Westcoast Classic, watch 7 curling games over three draws (between 9:00am and 6:00 at night) from a seat about 2m from the ice surface, pay $10 for a great homemade hamburger with all the fixings and a big basket of thick-cut fries, and pay $4 for a real pint of real beer served in a real glass. As a bonus, between games you can chat with the players, and even have a beer with them after the games: an unparalleled fan experience. No wonder the Royal City Club has a full house Monday.
Memo for next year: if you buy a $30 weekend pass, you can attend the party Saturday night. Live band, open bar, and fun times for all, curlers and fans. Trust me – I was a designated driver that night – it gets wild.