Visiting international teams reflect on North Battleford experience

By Brady Lang
January 13, 2019 - 8:00am Updated: January 13, 2019 - 12:14pm

While many spectators are at the Civic Centre and in the Battlefords for the 2019 Meridian Canadian Open, there are also 10 teams from outside of the Great White North. Seven women’s teams along with three men’s have travelled from beyond the nation's borders to compete.

It's Team Wrana’s first taste of action in Saskatchewan, and their third Jennie Wahlin and lead Fanny Sjoberg both commented about how friendly the people of the region are, and how much they enjoyed the spectacle that is the Grand Slam of Curling.

“The crowd is much bigger here [than in Sweden],” Sjoberg said. “It is always great ice in Canada."

When it comes to curling in Canada, however, both noted minor differences, mainly the massive fan base, how people focus on curling, and the product coming out of the country.

“I think a lot of people look up to Canada, because Canada has so many great teams and have many teams that are topped ranked,” Wahlin said. “It is a huge sport here. It is on TV, which it is not in Sweden and other countries in Europe.”

Sjoberg is from Stockholm, while Wahlin hails from Vasterled. They said they both grew up watching fellow Swedish-born curler Niklas Edin, who also competed in the tournament.

Surprisingly, both mentioned how bitterly cold it has been during their time in Saskatchewan. Although Sweden is in Scandinavia, they said that it’s only Northern parts of the country that see the mercury drop this low.

That was much of the reaction around the rink this week.

Both Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni and Scotland’s Bruce Mouat commented on the weather throughout the week.

Mouat said the weather was “very cold”, and even though he did come on one of the milder weeks, that didn’t change his opinion. It was his first time in Canada in January, and the weather did seem to hit him hard, he said.

Tirinzoni was more acclimatized to Canada as she’s been here numerous times. She is used to the cold but said this time around, it’s been “especially cold,” and that she doesn’t really know if she could ever get used to it.

While she’s been in North Battleford, the team has been focused on the curling, and said because of that, it makes up for the sub-zero temperatures.

“It is the best,” she said. “It is so cold up here, but the crowd is amazing and that makes up for everything. We love to be here and it is a fantastic Grand Slam and I hope it is going to be back here soon. I would love to come back.”

Regardless of the temperatures outside, it’s warm in the Civic Centre. The city has been treated to an intense, and entertaining week of action in the Home of the North Stars.

Twitter: @BradyLangCJNB

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