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Threepeat Curling in Vegas

Follow #SamInVegas this week, starting Thursday

By Sam Corea

In 2013, I began seeing TV ads showing scenes of curling action cut with the bright lights of Sin City and an announcer asking the question “Curling in Vegas?”  Well, here we are four years later with the third edition of the Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas.  And here I go again to take in the Vegas curling experience for the third time, and for your benefit, dear reader.

It seems Las Vegas has become a permanent stop on the international curling event calendar. And it’s Canadian travellers who are supporting curling in Vegas, despite the lower value of the loonie, as they look for any reason to escape the winter cold to enjoy some desert sun and curling.  I am one of those Canadians this year, as the usually mild West Coast winter weather has been anything but balmy with sub-zero temperatures and half a dozen snowfalls in Vancouver since December. So, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-teens, coupled with watching Team North America battle with Team World will help chase away the January blues.

In 2014, the teams were scouting each other in Vegas as that edition of the Continental Cup was held just weeks before the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Last year’s edition, in my view, suggested that the teams were more focused on friendly competition and fun.

This year, with the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games just 13 months away, organizers tell us the event is a chance for curling fans to get an advance look at many of the teams who will be chasing gold in South Korea (and we’ll have lots to say about that in future editions of The Curling News).

Of course, we’ve got some curlers who’ve been to many Continental Cups and the last two editions in Vegas. But there are many first-timers this year, so I’ll be looking to get their impressions of curling in the desert (along with Elvis and Marylin Monroe impersonators escorting them onto the ice) for my social media posts this week and weekend, which you can follow on two platforms: The Curling News Twitter feed and also on The Curling News Facebook page.

During last year’s Cup in Vegas, the former director of marketing for Tourism Nevada told me that Canadians love Nevada and they love curling, so hosting these events in the land of casinos, big buffets and showgirls is a natural fit. And the slogan adopted by those involved – Las Vegas Rocks – just seems to roll off the tip of the tongue.

Attendance for the 2016 Continental Cup topped 62,000 – the most people to ever watch a curling event in the United States.  Officials are gambling that the success of the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Cup events will result in even more bums in the seats in the spring of 2018, when the Orleans Arena hosts the Men’s World Curling Championship – soon after the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

I don’t think the novelty of being in an arena in Vegas filled with curling fans has worn off yet. In fact, as I tell folks I’m heading to Vegas for a curling competition, some still raise an eyebrow, but admit that it seems like something fun to do in January.

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Olympics 2018: The Final Three

Who will you root for, curling fan?

From a curling perspective, Vancouver 2010 was always going to be the Olympic sport’s high-water mark.

In just under three years, the world will gather in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and boy, we were surprised when they won that bid!

Shortly thereafter, we gave you a sneak peek on the cities that were assembling a bid for the 2018 Winter Games.

The list of 2018 candidate cities has been whittled down to just three – Annecy in France, Munich (Germany) and PyeongChang, South Korea – and the big decision will be made in less than three months, on July 6.

All three cities just finished selling themselves at today’s session of SportAccord, the massive international sport conference in Monaco. How massive is this annual gathering? Well, it’s big enough to attract World Curling Federation Secretary-General Colin Grahamslaw who would otherwise be in attendance at his organization’s flagship event in Regina, wouldn’t you think?

Here’s the lowdown on the candidates – from that curling perspective…

Was ist los? Schwimmensstockschießen?

ANNECY – The last time a tiny French town hosted the Winter Games was Albertville in 1992. Although curling was only a demonstration sport that year, The Roaring Game was tossed into an even smaller town – Pralognon-La-Vanoise – and it was a complete disaster. Nobody showed up to watch – and we mean nobody – and two of the four sheets of ice melted and were unusable for the entire tournament. Yes, France desperately needs a curling boost and yes, it is great to see the wonderfully stubborn Thomas Dufour playing so well in Regina, but who is to say that a decent curling showcase in Annecy will make any difference to the sport’s shameful level of domestic ignorance?

MUNICH – The German city lost out on a chance to host next year’s world men’s curling shootout (to Basel, Switzerland) but they just might land the Olympic Winter Games. The event would be hosted in the same European time zone as Annecy and the Germans, like the French, are also desperate for grassroots curling growth. Based on what we’ve seen to date, Munich would be great for curling; the organizing committee has shown some dynamic creativity in including the sport throughout its marketing activities (see the photo at left). And something tells us the German people would be more enthusiastic for our grand game than our Gallic friends.

PYEONGCHANG – A betting man would pick the Koreans to win this one, hands down. This is their third consecutive bid to host the Winter Games (they finished a surprisingly strong second to Vancouver in 2010 and they also lost the 2014 vote to The Vlad Putin Show) and they are determined to win this one. Plus, Sochi is pretty close to Europe, which could be a negative for both Annecy and Munich, and 2018 will mark the 10th annniversary of the Beijing 2008 Olympic (Summer) Games.

From a curling perspective, the Koreans have done their share of winning at the annual Pacific Championships to qualify for various worlds over the years. This year alone, Korea qualified for both the worlds in Esbjerg (women’s) and Regina. Moreover, Korea hosted the last Asian worlds  – the 2009 world women’s in Gangneung, located fairly close to PyeongChang – so they have a venue ready to go.

So there you go. If you were an International Olympic Committee bigwig – and a curling fan – which candidate city would you vote for?

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