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Olds curling season to begin this week

It's expensive to put ice in, club president says, but most club members polled were in favour of doing that
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OLDS — The Olds Curling Club’s (OCC) 2021-22 season is slated to begin this week, but making that happen hasn’t been easy, due to COVID-19.

During an interview, OCC president Jennifer Lutz said the club was forced to cancel a bonspiel slated to run in November. She also pointed out that as a group operating inside the Sportsplex, the OCC has to implement Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) rules.

Under that program, Albertans are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter many businesses, facilities and venues.

Some people have objected to those rules saying they discriminate against those who are unvaccinated.

“We don’t have a choice – it's follow the REP program or don’t put ice in," Lutz said. "They could do a negative test I guess, but we have to follow the Sportsplex (rules).”

Besides, she said lots of other people were anxious to curl again after the club was forced last January to cancel the remainder of last season and take the ice out, due to COVID.

“We’ve had some people upset about us proceeding, but kind of my answer to them is we probably have about 90 per cent of the seniors back and they’re vaccinated and nobody on the board wanted to take that opportunity away from them,” Lutz said.

“The seniors’ leagues are strong and they built the club. And to take a stand on freedoms and not give people who are vaccinated an opportunity wasn’t something the board wanted to do.”

As of last week, about 160 people had registered with the club. That’s down from more than 200 in a normal (non-COVID) year.

Lutz said putting ice in is expensive, but club members were polled and the majority wanted to do so, so the decision was taken to proceed.

In addition, they’ve had interest from curlers in surrounding areas because some clubs are considering not putting ice in this year.

“There’s a lot of fear I guess of putting ice in in COVID times, but we have a critical mass of people who want to curl,” she said.

"We checked with our members. We feel we’ve got enough teams and (are) hoping to get some more teams from surrounding areas that are postponing putting ice in until January.”

She said by putting in the ice and going ahead with a season, not only is the club responding to seniors (and others) who want to curl, but they’re also supporting junior members.

“We have a bunch of events in the queue and we’re asking people to stay tuned,” she said. 

“We’re just trying to kind of get our teams figured out and get going and then we have some funding for some different events – fun events that we’ll be rolling out once we get all the other stuff going first.”

Lutz said for example they plan to hold fun events on Fridays.

She’s hopeful some bonspiels can be held in the new year if other clubs put in ice as well.

The club has three new board members: Larry Flesatti, Larry Wright and Justin Shantz.

Lutz is grateful for the way club members have pitched in to enable a season to occur this year.

“We honestly have the best volunteers. It's just a really positive group to work with and it keeps everybody going,” she said. “They bend over backwards to make it work because I think everybody loves curling.

"Everybody's just pulling in the same direction and trying to make a good sporting option available for our community, so it’s pleasant, very pleasant to work with these people.”


Doug Collie

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