By Ryan McCracken on October 21, 2016.
Every year curlers from across the globe descend on the Gas City for the Medicine Hat Curling Club’s annual Hat Charity Classic bonspiel.
This year’s field includes a myriad of international talent â€” including squads from Scotland, Russia, the United States, China and Korea â€” all looking to strengthen their skill on the ice among some of the best talent Western Canada has to offer.
“It’s a very small country and there are not very much players in Korea. So we need the more experience and high quality games,” said Ilhu Kim, an assistant coach with Korea’s Team Kim Soo-Hyuk. “Every year we come to Canada.”
While Pyeongchang, South Korea is preparing to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Kim admits curling isn’t a very big sport in his home country, though it is gaining popularity.
“It’s very slowly growing, curling in Korea,” he said. “Korea has a very big focus on the summer team, so it’s not growing too much, just a little every year.”
Kim added some of his team’s players, like skip Soo-Hyuk, have been curling for more than two decades, but the men’s squad is still hoping to gain further experience by hitting the sheets in Canada.
“He’s a junior champion and gold medalist in the (Pacific Asia Curling Championship),” said Kim. “He has a lot of experience. The team has been playing together for four or five years.”
The Hat Charity Classic â€” which features 24 men’s teams and 16 women’s squads â€” will have its sights set on surpassing the $100,000 in fundraising for the Children’s Wish Foundation this year. The 22nd annual bonspiel will add on the $96,000 that has been contributed to the foundation in the past with the hope of cracking six figures.
Action gets underway at the Medicine Hat Curling Club this afternoon with draws at 3 p.m. Play will continue through the weekend before concluding with Monday’s playoff round, starting at 9:30 a.m. Finals are slated for Monday at 3:30 p.m.