CARSTAIRS - Curlers will be happy to finally be back on the ice at the local four-sheet rink starting this week, says Carstairs Community Curling Club president Craig Vatcher.
“We are ecstatic and everyone is more that excited to get curling again,” said Vatcher. “It’s been way too long that we’ve been closed.”
The Carstairs rink was last open briefly in the fall of 2020 before closing down due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We spent all October (2020) getting everything ready as we usually would, opened at the beginning of November, got about a month of curling in, and then had to shut down,” he said.
Now, a year later, the local rink is scheduled to reopen this week – and plans are to have an extended 2021-22 season, he said.
“We are really optimistic that we are going to have at least a four and a half month season,” he said. “We are going to curl a little bit later than usual this year.
“We are going to curl into mid-April and that will allow us a couple extra weeks of curling. We are optimistic that that will work out this year.”
Five leagues will be operating this season: ladies on Monday evenings; mens Tuesday evenings; mixed Thursday evenings; a Thursday afternoon juniors program; and seniors and sturling on Monday and Wednesday during the daytime.
A two-stage Learn-to-Curl program promoted by Curling Alberta will take place on Dec. 18, with youth in the morning and adults in the afternoon, all free of charge, he said,
The rink will be taking part in the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP), meaning players will need to show the vaccination QR code, an acceptable negative COVID test or proof of medical exemption.
Club members were surveyed about whether to take part in the REP, he said.
“We did a pre-season survey of the membership to see what sort of response we would get as far as people who are wiling and able to participate and we had an overwhelmingly positive response,” he said.
“That also allows us to open the lounge upstairs, which is really nice. So far, everyone is very happy to follow the protocols.”
Masks will be required when moving around the building, but not required when actually curling, he said.
Last week club members were busy getting the rink ready for play.
“We have a whole new set of rings going in,” he said. “Historically we paint all of our rings, but this year we are having them all printed and we are lucky to have some incredible local businesses that are sponsoring the rings so that they can be printed and used as in-ice advertisement as well.”
The Carstairs Community Curling Club will be hosting a Grey Cup party in the lounge on Dec. 12.