What it takes to become a curtain panelist
Posted On July 13, 2021
It was the year 2017, and the world was still reeling from the devastation of the pandemic.
But for the curling world, the pandemics were finally over, and many of the most popular curling venues had reopened.
A year later, Curling World, a curling forum founded by Australian curling legend Mark Kelly, has seen its membership soar to more than 100,000 members and nearly 1 million photos have been uploaded to Instagram.
Now, the world’s biggest curling events are getting more professional, and more focused on curling as a sport.
The sport is becoming a big part of the sport’s identity, with curling-themed brands like Paddle Creek, Curleyball and Paddle World appearing at major events like the Rio Olympics and the upcoming Winter Olympics.
In addition, curling has been on the rise in the United States, with a handful of major events including the World Curling Championships, the Curling Nationals, the 2017 World Championships, and World Curlers and Curlers’ Championship in 2017.
For many, curlerhood is now a major part of their identity, and it’s been a huge boon for the sport.
“I don’t think there’s a sport that is more important than curling, and I’m glad it’s become such a big draw for so many people,” says Rob Sturgess, the founder and CEO of Paddle and a former curling professional.
Sturgesses, who now runs a full-service fitness business, has been curling since he was a teenager, and has always had a soft spot for the game.
“It’s a really unique game.
It’s a great sport.
I just really love the game,” he says.
In 2018, Sturgises co-founded the World Cup of Curling, a series of international competitions that have helped grow the sport worldwide.
Strictly for the Olympics, Curly is a brand that promotes the sport through a series that has been shown at the 2017 and 2018 Olympics.
“A lot of the time we’re just playing in our backyard and trying to win medals,” Sturges says.
“We don’t really care if we win or not.
It just comes down to the fact that we’re all brothers.”
Sturgis says the sport is evolving to be more professional and to reflect the wider community.
“You’re still curling and you’re still competing, but it’s now more professional,” he explains.
“That’s what I think makes the game a big deal, because it’s a very big deal to curlers.”
With the curlers and curling brands coming out with new product and marketing campaigns, there’s more interest in the sport, and Sturgys says the sports associations are also seeing a surge in membership and sponsorship.
“The biggest thing that is happening now is that they’re really focused on building the business,” Sturdes says, adding that the sport also has more sponsors than ever before.
“There’s more brands now that are involved in the business, and they’re all doing things that are a little bit different,” he adds.
“They’re creating brands like Lola, which has a curler-specific brand, and that’s a huge thing, but also curling.
It has a bigger audience.”
As curling becomes more mainstream, it’s also becoming more expensive to attend, and not all venues are making money from the sport anymore.
For the 2018 Winter Olympics, the International Curling Federation, which represents the world of curling in Russia, was able to raise $9 million from the likes of Paddles, Curleys and Curler’s International, a venture that is owned by the Russian Olympic Committee.
The International Curlin Federation also announced in April that it would cut its budget by a third, and had to cut staff by 25 per cent in 2018, as the sport had to find a way to keep up with the demand.
With more tournaments opening and more curling competitions happening in the U.S. and abroad, it may come as no surprise that the game is growing at a rapid rate.
“In terms of the U, the market is growing so fast,” Streates says of the game in the US.
“When you’re talking about the world, it has more people, more people watching and more people buying.
It doesn’t matter what country you’re in.
The game is thriving and growing.”
For Sturgers family, he says the game has become a big priority, and he and his wife are excited to be able to provide more support for the family.
“My wife and I want to help as many people as we can,” he tells us.
“To be able for us to help people, we have to support the game.”