Jennifer Jones (pictured, centre-left) can’t wait to curl in the Honeymoon City. Last week, representatives from the municipality, Sportsnet, and the Canadian curling community gathered in Niagara Falls to officially kick-off the countdown to October’s competition. Photo credit: Twitter/Jim Diodati
The hype is real.
Perhaps Olympic Gold Medalist, two-time World Champion and 16-time Grand Slam Champion Jennifer Jones said it best at the official kickoff event promoting the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling at Table Rock overlooking Niagara Falls.
The Pinty’s Grand Slam is part of the Hearing Life Tour Challenge.
“Wow,” is how Jones opened her address to the dozens in attendance.
Sixty-four teams, 32 men and 32 women, will take to the ice at the Gale Centre from October 17 to 22.
“We’re looking for markets that are full of potential, that have the ability to take us to the next level, and Niagara Falls is perfect,” said Rogers Sportsnet Vice-President/NHL Production Rob Corte who actually grew up in St. Catharines.
“When you look at locations in Canada, Niagara Falls is at the top of the list.”
Mayor Jim Diodati reminisced about his past curling success when he proudly spoke of why the Honeymoon City makes a great spot for this event that will draw curlers from around the world.
“I know how devoted curling fans are. The best curlers on the planet are all going to converge on the Gale Centre.
We’ve hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on that ice, and know we can do this. I can’t wait for it to happen.”
Sweden’s Team Edin and Canada’s Team Homan are the reigning Hearing Life Tour Challenge Tier 1 champions following their title victories earlier this season in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
“It is the best curling fields in the world. It’s better than the Brier, better than the Scotties, better than the worlds. All the top international teams, sometimes from 10 different countries, both from the men’s and the women’s side will be here,” added Corte.
“The best of the best. If you’re in Niagara (Falls) you have to be there,” Jones said.
The event is expected to welcome hundreds of Rogers Media employees, along with more than 300 athletes and coaches and thousands of fans into Niagara Falls for several days.
In a report before city council last July, staff said the event is expected to provide an estimated $2-$4 million in economic impact and strong exposure for the City and Region.
It’s the second time in six years Niagara has been featured on the Canadian curling map after the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines hosted the Scotties Tournament of Hearts – the national women’s curling championships.
Spencer Maves, co-chair of the local organizing committee, said close to 200 volunteers have signed up to help with the event, with hundreds more potentially needed.
The Niagara Falls Curling Club is the host club.
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.