Tourney a huge plus for City

Excitement is already building for the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, set to take place in Red Deer next February.

Organizers recently held a press conference offering further details of the famous curling event, and noted that there’s plenty of enthusiasm in the community as plans rapidly take shape.

The City played host to the Tournament of Hearts back in 2004, and memories from that successful stint are still plentiful. The event helped bolster Red Deer’s profile both in the national curling community but also within the provincial and national sporting world as well. Red Deer is an ideal place for the Tournament, with its proximity to Calgary and Edmonton and unbounded supported for such events as well.

There is no doubt curling has a way of bringing people together, and it’s not just an appeal that is confined to avid sporting enthusiasts. According to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts web site, Canada “long ago distinguished itself as the number one curling nation in the world.

“It is acknowledged throughout the world that nowhere is competition as keen and the path to the top so strewn with obstacles as in Canada.”

Looking back, at the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, curling was a demonstration sport.

The Canadian Women’s team captured the gold medal. Four years later, Julie Sutton’s team from Victoria, the winner of the 1991 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, represented Canada at the Olympics in France, bringing home a bronze.

Finally, in 1998, curling was deemed a full medal sport in the Nagano, Japan Olympics. Not surprisingly, Canadian women shone with Regina’s Sandra Schmirler, the winner of the 1997 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, capturing gold.

It’s fitting that today the Sandra Schmirler MVP Award is presented to the top curler in the playoffs of Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Schmirler died of cancer at age 36 in 2000.

The women’s teams captured the bronze at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and again in 2006 at Turin, Italy. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts experience appears to be a common ingredient in helping to pave the way to Olympic glory.

It’s no surprise then that the event attracts such a following every year – a gift to whatever community finds itself fortunate enough to play host.

And although it’s still early days, there are lots of ways fans can get involved. The committee expects to have 450 volunteer positions to fill for the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

And even if you’re not a dedicated fan of the sport, volunteering provides a superb way to still get in on the action, the spirit and the fun of such a renowned, highly-anticipated event.