The Continental Cup is coming to Penticton's South Okanagan Events Centre Jan. 10-13. To help promote the event, which will bring some of the world's best curlers together, Save-On-Foods presented a contest giving people the chance to throw rocks on a mini-curling rink inside the store. From left are Save-On-Foods employee Duncan Gardiner, Continental Cup event manager Terry Morris and event assistant December van den Berg.
The ninth annual bonspiel is set for Jan. 10-13 at the South Okanagan Events Centre. It pits the best players from Team North America and Team World against each other, competing in an event similar to golf's Ryder Cup.
"There's no fun on the ice," said tournament manager Terry Morris. "It's all pretty serious. They all want to keep their stats up because every shot is recorded by a statistician, but it is a social event after the game."
As in the Ryder Cup, team captains choose their matchups for the men's, women's, mixed doubles and skins play.
Three draws will be played each day, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturday. A singles draw will be played at 1 p.m. Friday. On Sunday, play will feature two draws, with skins competitions for men's, women's and mixed categories starting at 1 p.m.
Scoring is the same as in regular curling, but each time either team wins a game, it will receive one point. Half-points will be awarded to each side for a tie. The first team to accumulate 31 points is declared the champion.
"You've got the best teams in the world here for the various teams," said Morris. "How you qualify for the various teams is you either have to win major curling events . . . or a team has to be the national champion."
Aside from watching the skill and finesse of curlers such as 22-year-old skip Eve Muirhead of Scotland, who is a member of Team World, and Canadian skip Kevin Martin, a 2010 Olympic gold-medal winner and Team North America representative, curling fans will have the chance to meet the competitors in person.
"We encourage that," said Morris. "In there, we have what we call the Original 16 Patch. The curlers typically will go in there, they'll order lunch (and) they'll mingle with the fans."
An autograph session is scheduled for Saturday following the morning draw about 11:45 a.m.
Various changes are being made at the events centre to accommodate the tournament. Morris said they include the removal of all glass from along the boards, the erection of scoreboards for each of the three ice sheets and decoration of much of the area in brilliant royal blue.
The first one or two rows will be blocked off, but seat sections currently covered over will be removed for the event.
Performers at the patch include The Young'uns & Orio on Thursday, who will present original and cover songs from country and classic rock to top-40 hits. On Friday and Saturday, The Chevelles will bring their cover sounds from the days of classic rock.
Daily draws are also planned.
More than 250 volunteers have been busy for the past several months, helping to put the event together. Some of them will be driving one of a fleet of 17 vehicles transporting curlers to and from the event.
The cost for a full-event pass, which includes all 11 draws and full access to the Original 16 Patch at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, is $129. The Skinny covers Saturday and Sunday and the patch for $109, and the Meal Deal for Sunday only covers both draws and a buffet meal and costs $65. Single draw tickets start at $15.
They are available at the SOEC box office, the Wine Country Visitors Centre or online at www.curling.ca/championships/