COVID-19 cannot keep curling down forever and now the Westridge Curling Club in Stony Plain is ready to boldly demonstrate that.
The organization and their peers in the sport were operating as they normally do every year and then shut down around the time of their playoffs in March. They cancelled their normal end of year party, waited for Curling Canada and Alberta to release guidelines on how to play safely in the time of the virus and are now set to begin their adjusted path to normalcy with in-person registration Wednesday before turning on the ice in October and allowing those who missed the thrill and chill of the methodical competition back in the building in November.
“We did a survey about returning to play and found about 80 to 90 per cent of our members said that they would come back for sure,” Kevin Hedley, Westridge Curling Club president said. “Things are definitely going to change this year and I expect we will hit the ice on schedule.”
As previously reported the new rules in place for clubs require enhanced cleaning procedures, physical distancing as well as limited access to equipment and only one sweeper being permitted on all delivered stones. Curling is described by other clubs in Canada as a “very social” sport and, although people cannot be as they were Hedley added that he still thinks that heart of what they do will ultimately beat onward.
“It is set up that your team has a cohort,” he said. “There are people that have gone to the lounge after for a beverage and I do not know how many will be doing that now. The social aspect and visiting are important and it will just be done this season in a way that is different.”
There will be added costs to the six figures normally required to run the space – representatives of the club in Spruce Grove could not be reached for comment on how their organization is faring – and there is still an air of uncertainty about whether things could go wrong and be shut down again. In spite of that, players are ready to get their rocks out and face the future with the feeling of fear being left in the past.
The annual general meeting for the Westridge Curling Club and in-person registration Wednesday will take place from 7-9 p.m. in the Spruce Grove room of the Heritage Park Pavilion. Health guidelines will be in effect as they have been and still are for public gatherings in Alberta.