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Pictou County gets curling crazy: so far, so great

East coast favourite Brad Gushue, who hails from Newfoundland & Labrador, in action at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Nov. 7
East coast favourite Brad Gushue, who hails from Newfoundland & Labrador, in action at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Nov. 7 - Kevin Adshade

WESTVILLE ROAD, N.S.

Barely halfway through the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event in Pictou County, organizers are more than pleased with how things have gone so far.

“It’s been a tremendous week, everything or more than we could have expected it to be,” said co-chair Jim Nix.

“We’re building toward the weekend and we know the crowds, from here on out, will just keep going up. From the players side, the conditions are great, the volunteers have been amazing. The support from the community has been over the top.”

Curling fans from around the Maritimes – and in some case, further afar – have been snapping up tickets to see 28 of the top 30 men’s and women’s teams on the planet doing their thing at the Pictou County Wellness Centre (PCWC). With the round robin yet to be completed, full houses at the PCWC might be a reasonable expectation for the weekend, up to and including Sunday’s championship games.

Chad McDavid, who does marketing and promotions for the PCWC, called the event “an overwhelming success thus far” and not just in terms of the number of people in the seats (Tuesday’s opening ceremonies was a near sell-out).

“The energy in the building has been the best I think it’s ever been. There’s a buzz in the community, so we’re very excited that it – thus far – has been a success from our standpoint. And we still have the best of the curling yet to come.”

McDavid added that it’s too soon to know whether the PCWC will enjoy a profit this week.

“After the event’s over, we’ll review everything and review the budget, but from a success or fail standpoint, I can’t help but feel it’s been a success, one way or another – because of the excitement’s it’s brought to the building (and) the community.”

The top eight from the round robin advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal and semifinal matches, with the championship games set for Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (women) and 4:30 p.m. (men).

The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling brand is owned and managed by Sportsnet; the TV lights went on Thursday as the national sports network began its televised schedule.

“The wellness centre has been perfect with the event we’re running, with the two arenas,” said spokesperson Jenni Cram, an events manager with Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.

“Having them this close by has been a dream for us. It’s a new facility, perfect for sightline viewing, and we’re very happy. Everywhere we go, people are saying hello and you really feel like you are part of the community when you come here. The curlers are really happy that we’re here.”

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