This time last year, all eyes were on Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. By this stage of the Games, competitions were becoming extremely fierce, and the sport of curling was no exception. Crowds were descending on all venues, including the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, to watch men’s and women’s curling live… and up close… which is odd, considering Vancouver is a city not known for turning out top curlers. Put it this way: for the 2.5 million residents of the Lower Mainland of B.C., there are 21 curling venues. Compare that to the 2.5 million residents across southern Alberta, who are enjoying some 78 venues from Calgary to Claresholm. Needless to say, if you know your way around a broom and a 40lb rock, and your postal code begins with a V (denoting a B.C. address), then sadly, you are a minority here. That being said, curlers are a tight-knit group. Olympic curling quickly became a hot ticket. Why? A number of reasons, but perhaps of most influence, was that the price point was reasonable, in Olympic terms (until Canada made it to the finals, of course). In an interview with Malcolm Johnston, of postcity.com, TSN curling commentator Vic Rauter recalled how there were people going to watch curling who had never seen curling before, and just wanted to be a part of the Olympics. “Once they realized there is this etiquette – of when’s someone’s throwing, you’re not beeping or yelling or heckling – the place was electric. The curling venue at the Olympic Centre was the hottest place to be.” said Rautner. Almost serendipitously then, Olympic curling became an opportunity for people who didn’t know the sport, to sort of ‘get’ what it’s all about. Talk about an Olympic legacy.
Well, in just a couple of weeks, Sandman Hotel Group is proud to announce that we will be getting involved in curling too! The Sandman Signature Hotel Prince George has signed on to be the host hotel for the 38th Annual Pulp and Paper Curling “Pulpspiel”, happening March 3-6 in Prince George, B.C. 24 teams from across northern B.C. will descend on the city, and be one of the first major groups we’ll have hosted since opening the doors of this beautiful hotel on August 18, 2010 . While not quite the Olympics, this bonspiel will be exciting for reasons that ring true to what curling is all about: the curlers and comraderie, the competition, and the amateur nature of the sport. Who knows, maybe a future Olympic curling team will be staying with us!