As Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt nailed Australia’s first-ever Winter Olympics win in the curling and then defeated the former champions after a positive COVID-19 result nearly brought their campaign to a sudden halt, Canberrans everywhere are inevitably thinking, “I could do that!”
While the ACT doesn’t have the resources available for curling at the moment, they might not be too far away, and those with long-held dreams of hitting the curling ice may finally have their dreams realised.
The ACT Ice Sports Federation revealed on Tuesday (8 February) that the world’s fastest-growing winter sport will be on the way to the ACT once the planned twin-sheet ice sports facility is built in Tuggeranong.
Australian Curling Federation president Kim Forge says the news is a long time coming.
“We’ve been approached a number of times over the years, and it’s only now that this has come to fruition, probably due to the development of the rink,” said Ms Forge.
“I think Canberra is in the perfect position for a new community of curlers, and we’ll be really happy to support the ACT in becoming a member of the Australian Curling Federation.”
Canberra is home to several former curlers who represented Australia, varying in age. Many of them are interested in getting back into the sport should it arrive in Canberra.
Several factors influence the level of interest in curling within Australia. Ms Forge did say that it does seem to peak every four years with the Winter Olympics cycle.
“Originally interest was because of the ex-pat communities, particularly those with Canadian or Scottish heritage where the game is more popular,” said Ms Forge.
“Those people together have joined and figured out that curling is a good game for social communication and connections, which it is. It’s a very inclusive sport, and it’s taken off from there.”
Melbourne and Perth are currently the most popular curling locations in Australia, with the latter growing dramatically since Curling WA was set up over five years ago.
Despite not having the facilities for curling, there is already a New South Wales Curling Association in place. The hope would be that with the ACT providing a physical home for the curlers in Tuggeranong, this could become a hub for curlers across NSW and the country, and could host national championships. Currently, Australian curlers travel to New Zealand for the national championships. It also opens the door to international events.
While the Tuggeranong ice sports centre is still awaiting confirmation from the ACT Government, ACT Ice Sports Federation President Tony Prescott was confident in their ability to deliver the sport to Canberra.
“Even though this is curling, where they throw rocks on the ice, we’re most definitely not between a rock and a hard place on this one; with the new ice sports centre, curling is coming to Canberra,” Mr Prescott said.
“With the creation and establishment of both an ACT Curling Association and the new ice sports centre in Tuggeranong, we would expect to see greater opportunities for Canberra to host a variety of curling events, from grassroots social competition right through to the elite level.”
The ACT Ice Sports Federation plans to host curling exhibitions and development activities leading up to the construction of the Tuggeranong facility. For updates on the introduction of curling in the ACT, follow the ACT Ice Sports Federation Facebook page.