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KIOTI curling chair pleased with Olds event's success

KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup organizing committee co-chair says event held at Olds Sportsplex got rave reviews
MVT Pinty's Grand Slam final
Skip Kerri Einarson of Manitoba throws a rock during the women’s final of the KIOTI Tractor Curling Championships May 8 at the Sportsplex in Olds. Doug Collie/MVP Staff

OLDS — Exhausted as he and his fellow volunteers are, KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup organizing committee co-chair Gary Gaudette says he’s looking forward to hosting an event like that again in town, after receiving rave reviews from sponsors and Sportsnet management.

The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup, the final event of the 2021-22 Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling, held May 3-8 at the Sportsplex, wrapped up with huge crowds attending the men’s and women’s finals on Sunday.

Gaudette was pleased to see the event finally occur. It had been postponed previously, due to COVID restrictions.

In the men’s final, the Brad Gushue rink of Newfoundland downed the Kevin Koe rink of Calgary 8-5.

That was Gushue’s 13th career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s championship.

Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson rink won the women’s final, defeating the Eun-Ji Gim team of South Korea 10-6.

For Einarson, that was her fourth women’s title in the series.

The event featured top-notch curlers from around the world, and as such, attracted fans from across Canada, including a boisterous contingent from Newfoundland to support the Gushue rink.

A small contingent from Korea was there as well to cover the event. During the women’s final, a young girl in the press box waved a South Korean flag very enthusiastically.

“Everybody had a fun time and it was a very successful event,” Gaudette, who co-chaired the organizing committee along with Nancy McInerney, said during an interview Monday. “We’re hoping we can get it back in the near future.”

“Countless people were coming up to me saying it was a great event, like a top-notch, world-class event,” Gaudette said.

“A total success, the crowds were awesome. We had some sold-out crowds for some of the draws. It was just totally amazing.

“And then the social house was a success as well. People were coming out and enjoying themselves. A full social house for Friday and Saturday night.

“Some of the Sportsnet management were saying that they’ve done about 60 of them and we rank within the top three. That makes you feel good.“

The KIOTI sponsors say they go to every single one basically and they said this is by far their best one so far.”

Gaudette was impressed with the way everyone in the community pitched in to make the championships such a success.

“The volunteers, they were outstanding. You couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to help out,” he said.

“The committee was second to none. I can’t even explain how well our committee ran. It was countless hours and throughout the week while the event was on. Every single one of us on the committee was here basically from start to finish.”

Both the Town and Olds Regional Exhibition helped out by providing extra parking for everyone. Gaudette said he wasn’t surprised to see Koe and Gushue meet in the men’s final, although he thought Team Edin of Sweden might have made it there. He had anticipated that the Einarson rink would be in the women’s final, but he was surprised to see Gim make it there.

“My bet was Einarson and Hasselborg (of Sweden),” he said. Gaudette was impressed by the Gim rink’s battle.

“She almost made a comeback. She was down a little bit there,” he noted.

There was a bit of disappointment for McInerney and organizing committee member Lowell Peterman, as their daughter Jocelyn Peterman, didn't have quite the run they were hoping for. She played on the Jennifer Jones rink of Winnipeg, which missed the playoffs after racking up a 1-4 record in round robin play.

“It was fantastic. We enjoyed it. It was fun,” Gaudette concluded.