Two B.C. teams with local connections are looking forward to playing in front of a hometown crowd when the Grand Slam of Curling series hits Kelowna’s Prospera Place this month.
Current B.C. champion Jim Cotter and challenger Brent Pierce will be among the 18 rinks competing at the Canadian Open from Dec. 12 to 16.
With team members from Kelowna and Vernon, Cotter’s rink is likely to be a crowd favourite.
Second Ty Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky both reside in Kelowna.
Cotter isn’t the only team with Okanagan connections. Brent Pierce’s third, Jeff Richard, hails from Kelowna, so the Pierce rink will be competing against the B.C. champion for home-crowd support.
Cotter, who made it through to the final of the Grand Slam of Curling event in Brantford earlier this month, said he is looking forward to playing closer to home.
“We normally have to fly across the country and we have family and friends who support us who don’t always get to see us,” Cotter said. “It’s great that we can play and they can come watch us on home soil.
Joining the Cotter rink for this event will be Edmonton’s Dave Nedohin, who will play third in place of Jason Gunnlaugson.
Nedohin is a four-time Brier champ with Alberta’s Randy Ferbey rink.
Cotter, who is married with three children, will see his immediate family in the crowd. “My oldest curls and the little ones love it and they love coming down. They’ll have a blast,” he said.
Richard, who plays third for New Westminster-based Pierce, is also looking forward to the event. He said the whole team is “extremely excited” to be competing.
“It’s a unique feeling to be playing at home. It’s the first curling event ever in Kelowna’s big arena, so we are excited to compete with the top teams in the world,” Richard said.
“It’s been a highly successful season so far and this Grand Slam event will be a great tune-up before provincials in February.”
The Canadian Open of Curling in Kelowna features 18 of the top men’s teams in the world squaring off for $100,000 in prize money.
If Alberta’s Kevin Koe continues the winning streak he started at the Rogers Masters of Curling event in Brantford, Ontario, he could be in line for a $1-million bonus.
Tickets for the event are on sale at selectyourtickets.com