Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shopping Mall Curling in Russia

World Curling Tour Europe – these guys, not these guys – have leaped into the headlines with word of an annual curling exhibition being hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Date of the first event is almost imminent: July 25-27, 2008.

The format sees five international men’s teams of considerable heft being jetted into the city to join three local teams, as yet undetermined.

Invited and accepted are:

Brad Gushue – Canada
Pal Trulsen – Norway
Thomas Ulsrud – Norway
David Murdoch – Scotland
Andy Kapp – Germany

Key to the venture is new WCT-E partner Adamant Construction & Property Management, a rather large Russian developer that happens to own some 1.7 million square metres of property in that city alone.

They also own a few shopping centres, including a big one that happens to boast a small ice rink. A rink that has seen curling displays in the past.

As such, shopping mall curling has come to Russia, just as it came briefly to the world’s biggest mall in Edmonton, and more recently (but sadly no longer) to a mid-sized mall in Galt, Ontario.

“It’s a bit of a breakthrough for us,” said WCT-E chief exec Armin Harder, a Canadian who lives in Switzerland.

“Adamant are covering all the costs, and the idea is to do this quite a few times leading in to Sochi in 2014.

“We look forward to putting on a good show for these guys.”

And what do the players think?

“We were pretty surprised,” said Gushue.

“We were notified by Armin Harder that the event was in the works and they asked if we were interested in attending. Of course, we said yes. But we didn’t want to get too excited until we knew for sure that the event was a go. Once we heard it was a go we got really excited.

“We have our tickets booked and we are looking forward to it... should be a great experience. Hopefully the event will help raise the profile of the game in Russia and add another event on the WCT-E for down the road.”

And on the western front:

“We are happy to be among those top teams that have been invited to this
event,” said Füssen’s Andy Kapp.

“St. Petersburg is a fantastic and booming city and to play a tournament in the middle of summer heat will be very interesting. In Germany and Switzerland we are used to playing tournaments in July and August, but not in a shopping center and not in Russia. If the ice isn’t melting, we will melt it!”

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