Canadian Gay Curling Championships begin in Winnipeg
Ceremonial first rock scheduled to be delivered by Olympic gold medallists Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes
Sixteen curling teams are competing at the 11th annual Canadian Gay Curling Championships in Winnipeg until Sunday.
Last year's champions from Vancouver are back to defend their title at the tournament hosted by Winnipeg's Keystone Rainbow Curling League.
The ceremonial first rock is to be delivered by Canadian Olympic gold medallists Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes on Friday.
The championship started on Thursday evening when curlers from around the country registered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, where they were treated to a guided tour and reception.
Joel Marcon and Rod Ingram are the skips for the two Manitoba teams. For Marcon, it's not only about getting out on the ice.
"I think people want to meet people in the community maybe outside of the bars, so sporting events is a good way to meet people as well," he said.
"We play hard against each other on the ice and we're the best of friends off the ice."
Ingram agreed, but said he would also be okay with curling in a standard league rather than one tailored to the LGBT community.
"There's a lot of players who are not as competitive, and they'll want to curl in a more recreational league. And there are [LGBT] curlers that curl competitively across the globe, so why not."
Ingram expects his team to work together to make Winnipeg proud, he said.
The championships are the product of a number of leagues that came together to create the event to provide a competitive platform for Canada's top LGBT curlers in an inclusive and supportive environment, a news release said.
The first championships were held in Edmonton in 2006.