Should you find yourself in a frustrating ice abstinence due to the Golden Knights’ prolonged end-of-season away schedule, head to the Orleans Arena for the Men’s World Curling Championship, which ends April 8 with a doubleheader of the Bronze Medal Final (1 p.m.) and the Gold Medal Final (5 p.m.).
According to Jon Killoran, CEO of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, this just may be a deluxe dress rehearsal for a final Nevada bid for a future Winter Olympics. “We are a company that was put together to get a Winter Games bid in. And while we patiently await for that opportunity, we brought other events to Las Vegas, like the Continental Cup in 2014, 2016 and 2017, and now this,” Killoran says. “Las Vegas is a unique location both as an iconic entertainment capital of the world and as an unusual ice-indoors, 80-degrees-outdoors climate scenario.” He adds, “It has more than 1 million Canadian tourists every year [1,440,846 in 2016, according to the most recent Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority data], and curling is a great way to cater to them as well as to a vast foreign contingent of Swiss, Swedes and Norwegians, among many others.”
The schedule is structured in three daily draws (at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) and four sheets (A, B, C, D), which means one can watch four games simultaneously. The 13 nations represented are Canada, China, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Korea, Italy, Scotland, Russia, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and host nation USA. Members of the U.S. team who won the Olympics will not be present, as they could not compete in the U.S. Nationals (which gives the right to compete in the World Championship) due to their highly televised glory tour following their Olympic gold in Pyeongchang. However, gold medalists Matt Hamilton and John Shuster will be available on Saturday, April 7, for a Pool Patch autograph session at 11:30 a.m. (check lavegascurling.rocks for updates).
What makes curling so compelling next to other sports are its strong sense of community and the intimacy of the experience, with players screaming their strategies in a babel of languages, and the virtual absence of referees, which might explain the general absence of vitriol or violence. “The athletes police themselves. The only time an official will come out is to measure which of the two stones may be closer to the scoring area,” explains Killoran.
Speaking of which, here’s a somewhat succinct definition, courtesy of britannica.com, for this mystifying, mesmerizing sport some have called “chess on ice” and “aggressive housekeeping: “a game similar to lawn bowls but played on ice. Two teams of four players (given the titles lead, second, third, and skip) participate in a curling match. Each player slides round stones, concave on the bottom and with a handle on the top, across the ice of a rink or a natural ice field toward the tee, or button, which is a fixed mark in the centre of a circle (called the house) marked with concentric bands. The object of the game is for each side to get its stones closest to the centre.”
Tickets for single draws start at $25 plus tax and fees. Closing Weekender Packages (which include tickets for afternoon draws from April 4 to 8) are $199 plus tax and fees. At lasvegascurling.rocks or orleansarena.com.