© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Pat Bibby, back centre, explains to students of a junior instructional curling camp last weekend, how points are scored in the game. Registration numbers are down across the board and it is hoped that more people will take up one of winter's favourite pastimes in this area.
Once a popular pastime in Prince Albert, curling has seen its numbers dwindle significantly this year as numerous leagues have seen a decline in registration.
The Super League on Tuesday’s has six fewer teams and the Conexus Rural League on Wednesday and Thursday has been forced to eliminate one whole draw. Senior leagues have also seen a decline in participation which has the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club scrambling for answers.
“It’s the logistics of people curling,” says Jacqui Wiesner, who co-manages the curling club along with her husband Merv. “A lot of teams have combined players; there are a lot of five-and-six person teams this year.”
What makes the trend even more frightening is the lack of interest shown by young people. Fewer youths are taking up the sport which makes the survival of the game in Prince Albert having a defined timeline.
Fees for any league are around $400 for the year which works out to about $15 each time a player takes to the ice. It is an inexpensive outing and the camaraderie that goes with the sport is generally priceless.
Still, there are a number of events being planned to try and generate interest in the game.
Last weekend at PAGCC an instructional curling camp put on by the High Noon Optimist Club attracted several young curlers and on Nov. 23 a Glow Curling event will be held with two draws running at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. There are also adult learn-to-curl classes being offered every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and a trio of Friday nights have been set aside for curlers to take part in a fun night of activities and to get introduced to the game at a very non-competitive level. The “Beer and Wing Nights” are scheduled for Nov. 8 and 22 and again on Dec. 6.
While the regular curling leagues are already under way, the cash spiel season kicks into gear this weekend when the Goodlife Fitness Ladies Spiel takes to the ice. The modified triple-knockout event gets underway tonight and will conclude on Sunday.
Next weekend is the senior cash spiel while the men’s event will be held Nov. 15-17. A High Noon Optimist Junior Bonspiel will complete a busy month of activities when it will be held Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the PAGCC. Competitions in that event will be held in three categories: 14-and-under, 17-and-under and 20-and-under.
A large number of volunteers put in a significant amount of hours getting the facility ready for the season with PAGCC being the site for the curling events for the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games in February. A breaker problem two weeks ago that forced some games to be cancelled has since been rectified leaving the facility in excellent shape; all that is needed are more participants.
More information on any of the league or programs can be obtained by contacting Pat Bibby at 306-764-2421 or the PAGCC office at 306-765-5203.
It is never too late to sign up and curlers of all ages and abilities are welcome.