For the hundreds who have come through the doors, so far, at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Morden, they will have noticed only three sheets of curling ice have been made instead of the usual four arenas are typically turned into for provincial championships.
Curl Manitoba’s Executive Director, Craig Baker, explained how this is a uniquely "Manitoba" look, right now, with having fans on the ice in VIP seating, just feet away from the curlers competing.
"I think you probably date it back to those that remember the old skins games, and that sort of thing, they would sometimes have them (fans) right by the ice," he explained. "The curlers and the fans are are not far apart. We have fans inside the boards, which I think is unheard of for normal play. You don't see that on TV at the Scotties or Brier, very often, nationally."
The change to three sheets was prompted by the move to a 12 team draw.
"When it changed to 12 teams, we were able to say, 'What can we do differently? How can we stand out differently from a few other provinces?'" said Baker. "Bringing it to three sheets, keeping it at the five days, we were able to do that. We're able to bring the seating in, and open it up to more communities, so you could be in venues that maybe didn't have the seating capacity, so they couldn't host before. Now, that you can bring in extra seating, they can host it and so we're bringing the economic impact of this event to more communities."
And speaking of that economic impact, Morden Mayor Nancy Penner shared her thoughts on what the women's championship means to Morden while enjoying some curling Wednesday afternoon.
"It's huge, and without our huge base of volunteers, this wouldn't have happened," she shared with CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Host Chris Sumner while he was on location. "I have to give Ernie Epp (Host Committee Chair), and his team, full credit to pull this together. It's just been phenomenal to have this and to host it here."
The 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts runs through Sunday.