Back for a second year, curling is a grand slam in C.B.S.
The Boost National starts Tuesday night
The Boost National, the second major tournament of the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling, is returning to Conception Bay South for the second year in a row — an unusual scenario, but a welcome event for Newfoundland curling fans.
The tournament began at 7 p.m. Tuesday at CBS Arena, featuring 15 of the top men's teams and 15 of the women's teams from around the world — including Newfoundland and Labrador's own Brad Gushue rink — competing for a combined prize of $300,000.
"We treated them so well last year that they decided to come back. Newfoundland is known for its hospitality, so we kind of tried to pour it on last year to make sure that we could get it back," said Adrian Power, chair of the 2019 host committee.
Organizers estimate that the tournament also brought $2 million into the local economy.
Team Paterson of Glasgow and Team Homan of Ottawa, Ont. won the men's and women's divisions, respectively.
Notable names for the 2019 event include Gushue, Brad Jacobs, Jennifer Jones, Anna Hasselborg, and world champions such as Niklas Edin and Silvana Tirinzoni among many more world-class athletes.
"There's quite a lot of curling talent here. This is the who's who of curling," Power told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
The Boost National will run until Dec. 15. The men's and women's final will be held that afternoon, starting at 1:30 p.m.
Gushue told CBC News on Tuesday evening that it's nice not having to travel and that the hometown support is huge.
"I get nervous, for sure. I think last year we tried to follow up the Brier and put on a repeat performance, and probably put a little bit too much pressure on ourselves," he said.
"So this year we tried to just treat it like a regular event. Whether we can do that remains to be seen, but that's the attempt that we're going to make this week."
Power said he's a little bit exhausted, but he and 150 volunteers are eager to get the event going.
"It is a big event, and we pride ourselves on doing a good job. Last year everything went just ever so smooth, and we're hoping again this year it'll be the same," he said.
Teams have been rolling into Newfoundland as early as last Friday, when the first Japanese rink touched down in St. John's.
Most teams have been warming up at the ReMax Centre throughout the week while the ice at CBS Arena was being finished.
So far, Power said, there have been no complaints from any of the camps.
"The curlers are a really good bunch. You've got to think of these people as ambassadors for their countries. All they want to do is curl, and as long as everything runs smooth that way there's no problem," he said.
"We take care, we provide some food to the crew and the curlers and whatever. Our motto is 'Whatever you want, we'll try and get it for you.'"
As of Tuesday morning, Power said there are still some tickets left for the draws. In fact, he said, there are roughly only 200 or fewer tickets remaining.
Power said once tickets run out there will be a release of standing-room tickets.
For Gushue's games, tickets will be a hot commodity.
"I think most of our games are sold out, if not close to sold out, to have that support it's just fun," he said.
"I'm not getting any younger, so I don't know how many opportunities I'm going to get play at home for the rest of my career. So [I'm] just trying to enjoy it, embrace it, have some fun with it."
With files from The St. John's Morning Show