A scene from the National Firefighters Curling Championships, which was held in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, the first time it has ever been held outside a city.Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After a whirlwind 10 days of top-notch curling, the dust is starting to settle in Moosomin. For the first time in the history of the Canadian Firefighters Curling Championships, the big event was held outside of a city. Moosomin certainly pulled out all the stops for the national curling event, something organizers, participants and observers alike have been calling a huge success.

“We were a little bit hesitant in a small town—we’ve never done it in such a small town,” noted Canadian Fire Fighters Curling Association president Dean Thulin. “I thought it turned out really good, everything was run to perfection.”

“All the feedback that I heard, everyone said it was excellent and they were really impressed with Moosomin’s ability to host such a big event,” said Town of Moosomin Economic Development Officer Casey McCormac. “I don’t know if it could be done in every smaller community, but I definitely think Moosomin has the volunteers and workers that could do this.”

The small town hospitality certainly paid off from a logistics standpoint as well.

“It’s nice in a small town where nothing’s more than five minutes apart; buildings or hotels or anything like that,” said Moosomin’s Recreation Director, Mike Schwean. “We’re able to get people shipped here and there and wherever pretty quickly. In bigger centres, it’s a little more of a challenge I’m sure. We’re able to do different events in different venues over a pretty quick amount of time.”

Planning to host the event began with a bid process back in 2018, delayed due to Covid, then revisited in 2021.

“The most important thing was just getting the people here and just having them enjoy our town,” said Dale Nixon, one of the main event organizers. “We got nothing but good reviews from everybody and a lot of them admitted they weren’t sure what they were coming to when they were coming to Moosomin, but when they left, I got a lot of real high reviews on all our facilities.”

The annual championships rotate around the country with Saskatchewan set to host again in 2035.

“It does take a lot of planning. But you know, we’d probably look at it down the road,” Nixon said when asked if organizers would consider putting in a bid to host again. “A big shout out to all the fire departments in the Moosomin area for their help, all the volunteers, and especially the host committee. Without them, this thing doesn’t happen.”

Held since 1959, the Canadian Firefighters Curling Championships—also dubbed ‘The Fire Brier’—has hit the $1 million mark this year in support of muscular dystrophy, raising $53,000 this year alone.

Local groups will also benefit from fundraising efforts of hosting the Hydrant Championship, including the Moosomin Curling Club, recreation facilities, the Moosomin Fire Department and the CT scanner initiative. Organizers are still counting up those dollars with exact amounts expected in the coming weeks.

Team Sask hurries hard

The curling event is not only a great unifier of firefighters across Canada, but also holds the honour of being the only event of its kind, according to Thulin. 

“This is the only national sporting competition in this country for firefighters,” he said.

A total of 11 teams from across the nation descended upon Moosomin to compete in draws from March 16-23. As the final draws of the tournament were slated, it became apparent this would be a western Canada battle between Team Alberta and Team Saskatchewan. In the first round of final contention, Alberta took a 9-3 win in seven ends, but Team Saskatchewan (comprised of firefighters from Saskatoon, Swift Current and the Co-op Ethanol Complex fire departments) would prove the ultimate victors, with a huge 11-1 score in four ends and a gold medal. Alberta’s silver medal crew hailed from the Edmonton Fire Department while the bronze medalist, Team Southern Ontario, was made of members from the Brampton Fire Department. 

“The curling is very competitive,” Thulin said. “Through the years, we’ve had a lot of Brier participants and champions.”

The level of skill out on the ice was something McCormac was also impressed with.

“You can tell that these guys are all friends and the camaraderie to see between them was just super fun to watch,” she said.

The event certainly drew curious fans of the sport—a testament to how strong curling in general features in Moosomin.

“Moosomin’s got quite a strong curling community so for the draws, pretty much all the seating was full,” Schwean said. “I think the curlers appreciated that, too. We’re more than happy with the attendance and the socials were well attended as well. So I think everything really went well.”

Next year’s championships will remain in the west as Edmonton will host the 63rd edition, but Moosomin’s hosting success will certainly be a hard act to follow.

By Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 01, 2024 at 16:50

This item reprinted with permission from   Moosomin World-Spectator   , Moosoomin, Saskatchewan

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