Men's Club Champions 2013
Al Larden, James Wright, Joe Coneybeare, Alex Killoch, Rob Gray.
Cheering for Team Canada in Riga
by Rita Tora
On New Year’s Eve, I booked a flight to Riga, Latvia to attend the World’s Women’s Curling Championships. My parents fled Latvia as children when Latvia became occupied by communists during the second World War. Although I was born in Canada, I learned the language and grew up with the cultural traditions. Being passionate about both curling and my Latvian heritage, when it was announced that the World Women’s Curling Championships would be held in Riga, I knew I had to go. I hadn’t been to Latvia in 15 years. A retired Canadian curling friend from the Royals, Susan Gillespie, decided to join me.
Little did I know that the High Park Curling Club would be one of the best represented clubs at the event. Teresa Selander, a fellow competitive Wednesday curler had planned to go to Riga with her sister, Carolyn and mother, Liz who had always wanted to attend a World Curling event and chose Riga almost randomly. Later in the week, Tuesday mixed curlers Grant and Angela Lawson, close family friends of Team Canada’s third Emma Miskew, joined our small group of dedicated Canadian fans.
Curling only started in Riga in the year 2000. My brother, Paul Bambers and I helped Latvia get information about curling and assistance from the World Curling Federation to get started. We held a fundraiser to help the Riga Curling Club acquire rocks, brooms, shoes and sliders. My brother, Paul travelled to Switzerland to watch the Latvian women play their first games in European championships and thereafter at their first World Curling appearance in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It was, therefore, of particular interest to me to cheer on Team Latvia as well as Team Canada in Riga.
The event was held in the Volvo Sports Centre, a small venue in a suburb of Riga consisting of twin hockey arenas with seating for 1000. We quickly became acquainted with the dozen Canadians who had come to encourage the young team Canada. If you saw any of the TSN coverage, you will have seen Hans, a literally colourful fellow from Yorktown, Saskatchewan who liked to change his beard colour 2 or 3 times per day. He very democratically supported each team at some point throughout the week. He is a regular at every World Women’s Curling and some football events with his wife Judy. Rachel Holman’s uncle, Brian (and fiancee, Dominique) was our leader with his cowbell and catchy cheers (Ali, Ali, Hot Tomali or Emma...oooh la la!) We met Janis Abols from Sudbury who was also of Latvian heritage and married to a curler. They decided to volunteer as timers so only sat with the Canadians fans for some of the games. A Goldline representative, Diane was a pretty steady fan but had to take care of sales during the fifth end breaks. Three young Canadians guys playing professional hockey in Sweden heard about the event and fit it into their Baltic tour as did a Canadian student studying physics in Norway. If you saw any more Canadian fans, those would have been my Latvian friends and family who I got to come out sporting Maple leaf tattoos and Canadian flags.
What a treat to have a front row seat for every game. We might not have had Russ Howard, Linda Moore or Vic Rauter’s commentary but we could hear the teams discussing shots and were tempted on occasion to interject our own advice (well mostly for the green Latvian team). I didn’t really take advantage of the fact that beer and alcohol were permitted in the stands as I needed to be ready to jump up and cheer at a moment’s notice, but Grant did!
The adjacent rink was set up with several curling sheets as well and anyone could come out during the week and try curling under the guidance of volunteers. After a two hour introduction to curling, locals were given a coupon that let them go watch one of the World Curling games. One day between games, Teresa, Carolyn, Sue and I got to play a 6 end game against a team of the event organizers which included the skip of the new Latvian Women’s champion team. We tied the game. It was also the venue for a 3 day bonspiel towards the end of the week where teams from other countries participated including a team utlilizing wheelchairs.
There was a lot of buzz about curling on t.v. and it was interesting to hear the Latvian women players patiently explain and promote the sport even though there were plenty of jokes about the purpose of sweeping such as “Latvian women curlers would make good housewives.” A Latvian radio host interviewed some of the Canadian fans. They were curious to find out why we came so far to watch curling, our impressions of Riga and what I knew about Latvian history and culture.
The Holman team was a pleasure to watch, hardly missing a shot. They were very much in control and deserved to win gold. It was a shock for all when Rachel Holman’s double take out jammed in the last end of the semi-final game against Scotland. It all happened so quickly. Canada was so close to reaching the final. Although disappointed, our full contingent of fans were back in the arena at 9 am the next day to cheer team Canada onto their Bronze medal victory.
As any dedicated curler, we made the most of our non-game time walking the cobblestone streets of Riga’s old town, admiring it’s architecture and sampling the local food, beer and champagne. Riga is a lovely City to visit. I highly recommend.
Team Stoughton Video at HPC
Have a look at this video shot during the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard at our club!
Creemore Springs Curling League