Officials: World curling tourney called success
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — World Curling Federation officials didn’t know how a tournament in Grand Forks would turn out. They certainly didn’t expect a record.
A year ago, "I said if you’d get 40,000 fans to the event, I’d be satisfied," said Les Harrison, the federation president. "I thought 40,000 was a realistic goal."
The 10-day World Men’s Curling Championship at Ralph Engelstad Arena that culminated with Canada’s gold medal win over Scotland on Sunday drew 51,731 fans, a record for a curling tournament in the United States. The previous mark was 35,544 fans in Duluth, Minn., in 1976.
"I’m really happy for (the arena) and the city," Harrison said. "And you have to give credit to Manitobans, who came down and supported the event."
Team USA skip Craig Brown summed up the tournament with one word: "Perfect."
Canada remains the hotbed of curling, but the World Curling Federation is trying to raise interest in the sport in other countries, Harrison said. The championship will be in New Brunswick, Canada, next year, but the tournament moves to Cortina, Italy, in 2010.
Harrison said curling has received more worldwide attention recently because the sport is included in the Olympic Games.
Ralph Engelstad Arena manager Jody Hodgson, who served as president of the 2008 World Men’s Curling Championship, said the tournament would not have been a success without the help of volunteers.
"We had such a great crew," he said.