by Deron Johnston
When talking to the participants at this year’s Royal Lepage Women’s Fall Classic curling event, some of the words used to describe it were words “first class” and “all class”. The overriding message was that the curlers themselves love coming to Kemptville every Fall as witnessed by the number of teams who have been here multiple times. The volunteers, the quality of the ice and the welcoming community are just some of the things that receive rave reviews from some of the best curlers in the world.
This year’s edition hosted by the North Grenville Curling Club was hit by a last second cancellation which caused organizers to scramble to re-draw the playing schedule.
However, the ship was quickly righted and the four-day tournament proceeded the rest of the way without any major hitches. Part of the reason for this remarkable ability to smooth over any bumps along the road is the level of commitment of the volunteers. This is actually the largest women’s bonspiel in Canada east of Toronto. Events of this size need a strong cadre of volunteers and the NGCC seems to have them.
Part of the excitement around “the Classic” every year is to see where some of the teams are coming from. This truly is an international affair with teams from all over the world. Team Wrana from Sweden who were finalists from last year’s event, were back again. The other international team competing this year was Team Lucerne HBL from Lucerne, Switzerland. There are also teams from across the country including the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. Local curling fans got an extra chance to cheer this year as a team from the local club qualified for the tournament. Lead – Barb Brown, Second – Tracey MacDonald, Third – Heather Pitt and Skip – Dawn Kish did North Grenville proud.
Team Arsenault from Nova Scotia fought their way to the final after beating Team Wrana of Sweden in one semi-final while Team Galusha from the Northwest Territories beat Team Murphy from Mississauga, Ontario in the other. It was a hard-fought and tense final on sheet #3 with Team Galusha taking home the top cash prize of $6,000 for the victory with Team Arsenault taking home $4,000 for their considerable efforts in getting to the final. All athletes should be commended for their competitive play over the gruelling, triple knockout four-day event.
Thanks to all of the volunteers, sponsors, participants and curling fans who made this another weekend to remember. To see such a high-level sports competition being hosted in North Grenville and to be able to interact so closely with such high-caliber athletes is truly a memorable experience. Hopefully more and more people will find out about the Classic and it will continue to grow each year. After all, how many people can say that they had a chance to have a glass of wine with a world champion? If you were there this past weekend, you did. Now that’s an event with class.