Top U.S., Canadian curlers to compete in Charlotte area this weekend

08/07/2014 7:55 AM

08/07/2014 7:56 AM

Four-time U.S. Olympic curler Debbie McCormick will compete in the Charlotte Curling Association’s third-annual Grits ’n’ Granite Bonspiel Friday through Sunday at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail.

The event will include 128 competitors from the United States and Canada.

McCormick competed on four Winter Olympic teams – 2014 (10th place), 2010 (10th), 2002 (4th) and 1998 (5th) – and nine times in the Women’s World Championship, winning gold in 2003 and silver in 2006. She is an eight-time U.S. national champion.

Other internationally known curlers scheduled to compete are Canadian Alex Forrest and Charlotte Curling member Jamie Sinclair.

Forrest, a native of Winnipeg, Canada, was recently selected for two-time men’s world champion Jeff Stoughton’s team. He was the 2010 Canadian Junior National silver medalist and 2013 Manitoba Curling Tour champion.

Sinclair was tapped by the U.S. Curling Association to participate in its “High Performance” Project 2018 program, designed to train Olympic-caliber athletes. She lives and trains in Ottawa, Canada.

Elimination round play begins at 8 a.m. Friday, with new games at 10:30 a.m. and 1, 3:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m., concluding around 10:45 p.m.

Play continues Saturday from 8 a.m. until about 8:15 p.m., with the championship game at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Friday draw includes McCormick’s team at 10:30 a.m., Sinclair’s at 1 and Forrest’s at 3:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome at any or all games. Admission is free.

Curling tradition holds that competitors are piped onto the ice by a bagpiper, followed by a toast to the piper with a shot of Scotch.

Before the finals, Charlotte Curling Association member Andrea Jones will play the bagpipes. The Grits ’n’ Granite toast will feature North Carolina moonshine.

The nonprofit Charlotte Curling Association has at least 80 members from across the Charlotte region.

The association is scheduled to move to a new curling facility in north Charlotte this fall. The 17,000-square-foot facility will feature 12,000-square feet of ice, plus locker rooms, a break room and other amenities.

The facility on Old Statesville Road will bring expanded curling opportunities to Charlotte, including women’s, men’s, college and youth leagues and opportunities for people who are visually impaired and who have other disabilities.

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