Hurry hard: The Brier rocks the Dome
I have never really been interested in curling, I don’t even remember ever sitting down and watching an entire match on television.
I remember playing once in junior high and falling pretty hard on the ice. So sports editor Kelsey Hipkin and I headed down to the Brier being held at the Saddledome.
Now, Kelsey has watched curling before and understands the rules. I, however, was not sure what to expect. All week from friends and on the radio I had heard how crazy curling fans were and that they love their sport. Boy, were these people right.
We headed down on Mar. 11 for the first of two meetings between Alberta’s Kevin Martin and Ontario’s Glenn Howard. Besides this match, six other provinces were also going head to head that night.
From the first moment the teams were introduced and marched out onto the ice — lead by a couple of bagpipers — fans from every team were out in full force with their cowbells, pots and pans and boisterous voices to cheer on their favourite team.
But, it didn’t stop there.
People were decked out in face paint, shirts, hats, fancy wigs and flags to proclaim to others who they were cheering for.
Jason Kell, watching his first Brier game ever, was decked out in blue and yellow face paint and had streamers in his hair cheering for Alberta. Alongside him were other family and friends of Martin’s team cheering.
“It doesn’t look that exciting but it really is once you are cheering for one team,” he said.
Mike Bresett, who had already been to a draw earlier in the week, was there to support John Morris, the third on team Alberta as the two work together as firemen.
Bresett and Kell were sitting in front of some Ontario fans, one of which was wearing a giant orange foam cowboy hat with “Team Howard” taped on it.
As the night went on some trash talking was going on between the Alberta and Ontario fans but it was all in good fun.
“I think there is some kind of curling fact out there that a team that wears white belts and white socks has never won a Brier,” said Bresett about team Ontario’s attire.
“I’m pretty sure there should be an automatic default but it hasn’t happened yet.”
That wasn’t the only battle happening off the ice between Ontario and Alberta’s fans. Every time Ontario would score a point at the end of eight rocks, an older gentlemen decked out in a green shirt and hat with numerous pins on it would grab his giant Ontario flag and chase those who had Alberta flags around the stands.
Despite the two teams being in a close battle with each other, the curling crowd understands it is all in good fun.
“I enjoy the crowd, the people; it’s all friendly here,” said Trevor Barker, who drove down from Edmonton for the day with his curling team to cheer on Alberta.
The best thing about the curling fans and the atmosphere during a match was the support of the other teams. Even the players understand this.
“We make a good shot and get a few cheers,” said Ontario skip Glenn Howard, after his team lost 7-6 to team Alberta. “I’d much rather have them cheering for us because it sure does get your blood going and your adrenalin pumping.
“The crowd’s been great and they should be. It’s the home province for Kevin (Martin) and the boys and I totally expect it.”
While Howard, wishes the crowd was cheering for him, Alberta’s second Marc Kennedy sees it as helpful for his team.
“The crowd just gives you that extra bit of intensity, that little extra boost,” he said. “They are so loud I think they might be setting some records this week. It’s a good feeling. It’s almost like having a fifth man out there.”
For me personally, I was definitely impressed by the intensity and support the fans have for their team, the sport and each other.
It was a community that sweeps you in and I even found myself secretly cheering and hoping for good shots. I suggest that everyone experience this kind of crowd for themselves at some point in their life because it’s a different atmosphere than any other sport.