How Much Buzz can a Curling Event Generate?

After spending some time at the Canadian National Championships - the Brier - I wanted to reflect a little on the experience for the benefit of Australian's who may not have experienced a big time curling event like that before.

I blogged about how the final was setup to be a classic with the two best teams in the world playing some great curling throughout the week. In the end, it was not the most entertaining game we all expected, but Kevin Martin (Alberta) won the championship game with a cool draw to the button against Glenn Howard (Ontario).

The game was somewhat lulled by different and changing ice conditions compared to the rest of the week. There was several picks that changed the outcome of ends. And, both teams were playing a conservative style of strategy - I presume because they did not trust the ice or that sheet. So there wasn't the high octane extreme strategy being exhibited that both these teams are comfortable playing. Perhaps there was actually some nerves showing from both teams???? Speaking with Glenn Howard after the game - he agreed that the scenario was setup for one of the greatest games of all time. He was really hoping that both teams would play at 95% and really put on an unforgettable show. It didn't turn out that way.

Still - there was an audience of over 10,000 people watching the game. Television crews and photographers abound along the edge of the ice while the game is on.

There is constant noise and cheering from the crowd - sometimes while attempting to deliver a rock. The good players just block it out and don't even hear it. Rookie players in this environment sometimes can get distracted from the additional things going on around the game.

The event dominated the local media. Each day the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press was all about curling. The first 5 pages of the sports section was all about curling. The Brier itself publishes a daily newspaper to go deeper into the event and what was happening both on and off the ice.

Add to that - there was 1200 volunteers that took a week or two off of their jobs to help make the event a success. The need for drivers for the team and VIP vans, Media organisers, team support, logistics, ice crew, umpires, tickets, accreditation is huge to make the event smooth.

From what I hear from the Organising Committee, the event went very well.... except for the 6 vehicles involved in smashes (include one accident where one of the vans hit another one - ooops). The OC is probably busy filling out claim forms.

Both teams are already household names - in similar stature and media coverage as, say, Australian Cricketers.

For Team Martin, they will continue to train and practice for the World Championships in April.

For a lot of the other players at the Brier, they will finish with a couple of Tour events, and then head back to their day jobs.

In the end, the attendance was about 170,000 people for the week , which puts this Brier just a little behind what the World Championships had last year of 184,000 in Edmonton.

Big attendance, big revenue, big costs, big media coverage, lots of people involved - all for our little fascinating sport on ice.

We'll be seeing Team Martin in Grand Forks. It will be a funny situation of John Morris (CAN) vs Earle Morris (AUS). Catch the action in game three of the World Championships when it is Father against Son. We may just have to give Earle that game off if wants to just sit back and watch two of the competitive teams he is involved with play against each other.

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