Now that The Masters Grand Slam of Curling is over, local event co-chair Jay Allen has had some time to sit back and reflect.
"World class," said Allen of the bonspiel, which included 68 teams curling at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, Brantford Golf and Country Club, Brant Curling Club and Paris Curling Club.
"You’re not going to find any better curling. There were nine different countries that were represented and the best teams in the world. It was great to watch.
"We haven’t had any negative words to date in regards to it. It went pretty seamlessly."
Allen and co-chair Wayne Tuck have had experience running big curling events. They have been involved with this event for a while, even though it was under a different name.
In its most recent past, the bonspiel was known as The Sun Life Financial Classic but this year the stakes were raised when Rogers Sportsnet purchased the Grand Slam of Curling and decided that the Brantford event would be a good first stop on its tour.
While Allen and local curling fans were more than happy to join forces with Sportsnet, things came together quickly making for some minor issues.
"The television production, the fact that it was their first time under new management, there were a lot of bugs to be worked out in a very, very short period of time," said Allen
"It’s one of the more challenging things I’ve taken on for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite that size."
Luckily for Allen and Tuck, the Brant County community stepped forward.
"Without the volunteers there’s no way you could run an event like that," said Allen.
Having teams play on Rink 1 at the Gretzky centre proved the arena could be used for more than just hockey.
"We got to showcase our brand new facility, which worked out great, and we got to showcase the city, which is the Tournament Capital of Ontario," said Allen.
"We heard nothing but great things about the venue."
While the crowds in the stands weren’t as large as expected, Allen said that a lack of preparation time hampered promotion and in turn attendance. However, he added that Sportsnet was more than pleased with viewership ratings.
On the ice, the event featured a tiered system where club curlers and world-class curlers could meet and possibly play each other. However, it was hard for the club curlers to compete with the top rinks since 18 of the top men’s and women’s teams from around the world were in the field.
In the end, it was an Ontario rink led by Rachel Homan that won the women’s championship and the $20,500 first-place cheque and Kevin Koe’s Alberta rink that won the men’s title and the $20,000 winner’s share. The total combined purse for the men and women was $200,000.
Allen said he expects The Masters to be back in Brantford next year.
"It was a two-year commitment when we first agreed to do it," he said. "Obviously we haven’t had a wrap-up meeting to find out if that’s still the case. With another year under our belt, everything will run even smoother."
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