Community Clubs Curling Elite Amateur Sport

Play gets underway at RA Centre’s upgraded curling facilities

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Lauren Mann, the skip of Team Mann of the Ottawa Curling Club, grips a rock at Curling Canada’s Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event, which was one of the first competitions held from Sept. 22 to 26 at the RA Centre’s newly opened Curling Centre of Excellence. (Photo: Dan Plouffe)

By Charlie Pinkerton

The first stones have been thrown at the RA Centre’s Curling Centre of Excellence, with a pair of pre-Olympic-trial events kicking off competition on the site’s new ice sheets in September.

Team Mann, made up of Lauren Mann, Kira Brunton, Cheryl Kreviazuk, Karen Trines and Marcia Richardson, was the only Ottawa team to compete in either Curling Canada’s Trials Direct-Entry and Pre-Trials Direct-Entry events, which the Alta Vista-located RA Centre hosted from Sept. 22-26.

Competing in the Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event, Team Mann was vying for a spot at the Home Hardware Pre-Trials, which was held in Nova Scotia at the end of October. Ultimately, the rink that represents the Ottawa Curling Club couldn’t advance to the next pre-trial event, finishing with a record of 2-3 at the event that kicked off competitive play at the RA Centre’s new curling rinks.

Mann, the team’s skip, was undeterred by her team’s up-and-down play when she spoke to the Sports Pages partway through the tournament.

“We’re still a brand new team trying to figure things out,” she said.

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Mann, who is 37 and originally from Aylmer, Que., has competed in the Ontario and Quebec circuits during her curling career, which stretches back about two decades.

She and teammates Brunton, Kreviazuk and Trines formed their Ottawa-based rink last year. They only competed in two events together last season, with their highlight being a victory at the 2020 Stu Sells Toronto Tankard, where they beat Jennifer Jones’ short-handed team in the final. Richardson is Team Mann’s newest member, joining as their fifth this season.

Curling for the team’s members is also something that fits into their busy lives outside of sport.
Mann has a two-and-a-half-year-old, is working to finish an executive MBA, and works full-time.

Two other members of the team are also in school, and Trines announced in September that she’ll also be having a child this spring.

One main goal the team does have this curling season is to qualify for the Ontario championships, Mann said.

“We’re taking it for what it is and trying to make some shots and see where it goes,” she said.
The team skipped by Kerry Galusha, and from the Yellowknife Curling Centre, in the Northwest Territories, won 1st place at the Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event.

Curling Centre of Excellence

The RA Centre’s new Curling Centre of Excellence. (Photo: Dan Plouffe)

The RA Centre’s new curling facility was built in a space originally used for hockey. Now there’s five curling rinks and two practice sheets. Upgrades were also made to dehumidification and heating systems as well as the lighting.

Rebuilding the curling facilities is part of the RA Centre’s larger multi-year and -phase redevelopment plan.

While the RA Centre’s new curling rinks are now bonspiel-ready, upgrades are planned to continue over the next couple years, including to its lounges, changerooms, and restaurants.

To mirror the inclusive nature of the Centre’s rinks — which allow for junior and wheelchair play — the facility’s complementary features are also planned to be fully accessible.

“By having a facility like this in Ontario, in this part of the Ottawa area, is only going to help promote the sport and grow,” Brimicombe said.

—With files from Dan Plouffe

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