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Swift Current will play host to the World Women's Curling Championship on March 19 - 27 at the Credit Union Iplex. This is the city's second time hosting the event in six years. Photo by Allison Bamford.

The curling community of Swift Current, Sask. will be hurrying hard in a couple of weeks as curlers from around the world compete for gold at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.

This is the second time Swift Current, with a population of a little over 15,500 people, will play host to the world for the event, March 19 to 27 at the Credit Union Iplex. Twelve teams from across the globe are scheduled to compete in the championship, including Scotland, Russia, Japan, Italy, Korea and, of course, Canada.

It might seem odd that a city the size of Swift Current is hosting a world event like this for the second time in the past six years. However, it is the size of Swift Current that makes it the best candidate for this event, according to Mitch Minken, vice-president of the Swift Current Curling Club and director of ice facility for the event.

“If you bring an event like this into too large of a city, it kind of gets lost in everything else that’s going on,” Minken said. “When you bring an event like this into a city the size of Swift Current, what you get is an entire city completely immersed in the event.”

Rob Dewhirst, event manager of the World Women’s Curling Championship, said the reason for Swift Current hosting for a second time was to do with the success of the first event.

“It was all to do with the great job that they did in 2010, the wonderful group of volunteers and a facility that worked very, very well for this event,” said Dewhirst.

According to Dewhirst, Swift Current welcomed over 40,000 athletes, coaches and fans throughout the course of the 2010 championship.

Another reason for its success is the size of Swift Current’s arena. With a maximum capacity of nearly 2,700 seats, it isn’t hard to fill the crowd, according to Minken, who said the closing weekend of the 2016 event is already sold out.

The World Women’s Curling Championship not only offers curling, but also an array of activities off the ice. Live entertainment takes place every day in The Patch, the official party place of the world championship, as well as autograph sessions and one-on-one interviews with the curlers.

According to Jerrod Schafer, the mayor of Swift Current, hosting the curling championship a second time has a huge impact on the community.

“It’s a huge feather in the cap and a huge source of pride for Swift Current,” Schafer said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase what a wonderful community we are to the world that’s going to be watching and to the folks that are here visiting.”

According to Schafer, the championship in 2010 brought in several millions of dollars to the city.

“Certainly there’s a great economic impact in terms of shopping and restaurants and hotels and bringing people into our community,” Schafer said. “But in terms of community pride or the feeling it leaves here, you can’t put a price on that.”

The local curling club, which is the prime beneficiary of the event, not only receives financial compensation from the event, but also sees growth in their curling community.

“Where we’ve seen the growth is particularly in among the youth,” Minken said. “They get an opportunity to see curling at this level and that seems to spur them on to take a look at the sport and to take a look at participating in the sport.”

The success of the 2010 championship left a lasting impression on the community as well as the athletes.

Kelly Schafer, nee Wood, played third for Team Scotland, skipped by Eve Muirhead, in the 2010 World Women’s Curling Championship, where they took home silver. Schafer has since moved to Swift Current, leaving her home in Scotland, and is now co-chair on the facilities committee for this year’s event. Schafer still remembers the successful event put on by Swift Current in 2010.

“The ice was amazing, the crowd support was unbelievable, and there was a real energy in and around the arena when players were on the ice,” Schafer recalled. “You could see there was a lot of effort put in to making sure it was a good event.”

Schafer hopes to draw from her 2010 experience to make this year’s championship just as enjoyable for fans, athletes and volunteers. As a former competitor, she also has insight to what’s important to players and wants to make sure that all the athletes can perform their best.

As for who she will be cheering for, Schafer said, “My homeland is in my heart and I guess Canada would be on my back.”

While Schafer is cheering on her former skip, Eve Muirhead, the rest of Swift Current can cheer on Alberta’s Chelsea Carey and her rink, as they will represent Team Canada.