Hurry hard to Penticton

Dustin Godfrey

The Okanagan will welcome Canada’s best women’s curling teams to the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Curling Canada announced on Thursday.

The 2018 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship will be played Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

“There was a great deal of interest from across the country in hosting the 2018 Scotties, but the bid from Penticton raised the bar and made our decision relatively easy,” said Peter Inch, chairman of Curling Canada’s board of governors in a news release.

“The South Okanagan will put on a great show, not only for the curlers and their families, but also for curling fans from across Canada, and I’m confident this will be an event remembered for years to come.”

The announcement brought excitement to a packed Valley First Vault Bar and Grill in the SOEC, and Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said at the announcement that's for good reason.

"Really, the Scotties is the world premier curling event for ladies which has a tremendous following both from fans and viewers alike," he said, noting that the event comes during the city's off season, which has recently been the target time to attract new events.

"It has great impact both on the short term, because the economic impact is, I think, closer to $6 million, but also on the long term, when they look at Penticton as an option for future travel, or to come here to retire, move here to invest and that sort of thing."

While a Canadian tournament, the Scotties aren't only watched here in Canada, according to Curling Canada director of communications and media relations Al Cameron.

"There's a huge feedback from American curling fans," he said. "Just the very fact that the city is going to be exposed on national live television on TSN and all their platforms for 66 hours during an event, I mean, you can't buy that kind of publicity for the city."

But behind the scenes, bringing the Scotties to town took a lot of work from the bidding committee, according to its co-chair Charlie Cohoe.

"We had a lot of meetings and a lot of back and forth, a lot of conference calls, but in the end we did put it together," he said.

While it’ll be the first time Penticton has played host to the Scotties, the South Okanagan Events Centre – seating about 5,000 and home to the B.C. Hockey League’s Penticton Vees – is no stranger to major curling events.

The arena hosted the 2013 World Financial Group Continental Cup, won by Team North America.

Castanet will provide more details as they become available.

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