Summerside was the last stop on P.E.I. for the United States team as they slid onto the Silver Fox Entertainment Complex’s ice for the Canam Cup tour Sunday afternoon.
The point of the tour, started by Canadian Curling Club chairman Peter Inch and U.S. Curling Association chairman Rich Lepping, is to build bridges.
“Curling is done between Canada and Scotland, and the U.S. and Scotland, but there has not been anything between Canada and the U.S.,” explained Steve McKee, the United States captain. “This is an opportunity to connect and make friendships. Five years from now, 20 Canadians will travel to the U.S.”
McKee’s team comprised of people from across the United States that were meeting for the first time.
“There were 70 people that applied for this team. It’s co-ordinated by the U.S. Curling Association and it was a competition of sorts, but not a playdown of skills. The team is formed by people that have done the most to support curling – whether starting up clubs, teaching thousands, or long service in the sport,” said McKee, of the Charlotte Curling Association in North Carolina.
The United States team played 25 games in 18 days across the Maritimes before returning to their starting point of Halifax.
“The hospitality of Canadians and the throwing down of the red carpet, so to speak, has been phenomenal. Every club we have visited has got a different flavour, but a very common theme of warm hospitality. Visiting the Maritimes has been a bucket-list for many of our curlers,” he added.
Larry Richards, of the P.E.I. organizing committee, said five American teams (20 in total) were playing across the Island, with the last stop in Summerside on Sunday.
“This event came together at the Continental Cup in Las Vegas to bring camaraderie with the U.S. and Canada, so today is a big deal. I’ve been travelling with these people and they are a great bunch of guys from across the United States. They met for the first time on this tour and were picked for what they do for the sport,” said Richards.
There’s a community, camaraderie and fellowship among curlers.
“We can come from thousands of miles away but connect on common grounds with our approach to the game and each other. There’s a culture in curling, a moral and ethics in how we conduct ourselves and it runs deep,” said McKee. “No doubt there are people I will keep in contact with as a result of this tour.”