2010 Ford World Women's Curling Championship hosted with world-class pioneering spirit

Elisabeth Dowson
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A wrap-up report of the 2010 Women's World Curling Championship confirmed what Swift Current and the Southwest already knew: world-caliber, record-breaking success is achievable with Saskatchewan's vibrant, "small town" volunteering spirit and solid municipal and corporate support.

"TSN broadcast us nationally and WCTV broadcast to Europe, and Japanese and Chinese networks were here," said Barbara Walter, Co-Chair, 2010 Ford World Women's Curling Championship.

"The world saw not only the iplex in world championship dress, but also Swift Current and the Southwest. That happened for 10 days over 22 draws. I've said this more than once: if you could afford that kind of publicity, you couldn't buy it."

Swift Current was the smallest city to ever host the World Men's or Women's Championship but produced some of the biggest statistics.

"Because we are so small, the WCF and the CCA really took a bit of a risk in awarding this event to us, but former and current mayors and city councils wholeheartedly backed this event from the beginning."

"TSN really liked us because we gave them great numbers. We doubled the audience from the '09 Worlds in Moncton and in the play-off games between Canada and Germany, Canada and Scotland and in the final game, we had nearly one million viewers," said Walter. "Those are CFL Roughrider numbers!"

A total of 465 volunteers from southwest Saskatchewan and even other provinces demonstrated friendliness, willingness and efficiency that is typical of Saskatchewan small town volunteers, topped off with professionalism that exceeded aspirations.

"They all worked so hard, and with such enthusiasm, that we had no major problems. This was an amazing group. Nobody dropped the ball. It is a huge credit to our club and our community."

Many of the 52,000 people in attendance witnessed curling for the first time, and for some Swift Current residents it was their first visit inside the iplex.

"In the audience, there were more men than women that watched us, and a great increase in the 18 to 49 age category, where nearly half of the audience was under 49, which are numbers that television really likes," noted Walter.

From the opening banquet featuring an entrée of Saskatchewan beef and Saskatoon berries to the decorations in the arena, the committee made sure there were local prairie influences everywhere.

Whenever possible, the committee sourced goods and services locally. Marty Salberg, Director of Business Development for the City of Swift Current, projected a $6.5 million benefit for the Championship, and Walter said she is confident those numbers were achieved.

"In talking to the hotels, restaurants and retail, I think they were very pleased with the kind of business that they did during the event. Living Sky Casino told me that they doubled their numbers compared with the same period the previous year.

"That 50/50 in partnership with the Broncos was certainly an economic benefit. I want you to know that it was run by the Swift Current Curling Club, but we had 14 of the rural curling clubs assist with that and they all got some of that 50/50 money.

"The Patch was a huge success. On the weekend, it resembled Riderville at the Grey Cup. People stood in line sometimes for nearly an hour to get in there. We had great ticket sales for the evening draws, and most of the evening draws in the playoffs were sold out.

"Financially it was very successful. Both the World Curling Federation and the CCA were very pleased with the finances."

Walter claims that the Worlds put Swift Current on the map for this kind of an event, proving that a small city with a big heart can do it and do it well.

In an email to Walter, Warren Hanson, Director of Event Operations and Media for the CCA, with whom the committee worked most closely, wrote, "I can honestly say that from top to bottom your committee was one of the best our group has ever dealt with and the cooperation was outstanding. Both the CCA and the WCF are very appreciative of your efforts."

"We had 360 volunteers there to attend the opening ceremony," said Walter, "even though many of them were not scheduled to work that day and many had travelled from other provinces."

Walter concluded her report by saying, "I guess maybe that is the best legacy: confidence in our community that we can do something like this. I had people tell me it looks wonderful on TV; it doesn't even look like Swift Current.

"When they said that to me, I said to them, ‘Oh yes it does. It looks exactly like Swift Current. This is what we can do.'"

Organizations: World Curling Federation, Canadian Curling Association, Saskatchewan Curling Association Swift Current Curling Club City of Swift Current CCA SCA WCF SCCC

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada Europe Moncton Germany Scotland Saskatoon Saskatchewan Southwest

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