Workers put the final touches on converting the Mattamy Athletic Centre ice to curling sheets, ahead of the Players’ Championship taking place this week. (Talia Boettinger/Ryersonian)

Ryerson’s curling team is set to take part in a sweeping clinic with celebrated Canadian curler Kevin Koe and his team this Friday. This is part of the Players’ Championship for Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, an international curling event taking place all this week at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Audrey Wallbank, a third-year student and member of Ryerson women’s curling club, says she is very excited to learn from the pros on how to be a better sweeper. She also said she hopes that having the Players’ Championship at the MAC will help nudge Ryerson’s curling teams towards the varsity status they are seeking.

“We’re a fairly new team, but we’ve represented well with success. And we’re hoping that the university will recognize that,” she said.

The women’s curling team didn’t make it to the OUA playoffs this year. The men’s team did, and placed fourth. According to Wallbank, the last time the women’s team went to the playoffs was in 2017.

Jacob Thielen, a fifth-year student and member of the men’s curling club, has been on the team since they started in 2015. He said that this year, he was one of the skips – or team captains – for Ryerson’s development team. He said he’s excited to learn how to be a better leader from pros like Koe.

“I have confidence in my ability and what I’ve learned through the team, and I know that I’m going to do Ryerson proud,” he said of Friday’s sweeping clinic.

Koe is a two-time world champion and four-time Canadian champion in curling. In 2018, he represented Canada in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as the skip. Last weekend he won silver at the men’s world championships, in Alberta. Nik Edin, from Sweden, beat Koe 7-2 for gold.

Coach Perry Marshall said his team’s proximity to the Players’ Championship and Koe’s team are examples of what sets Ryerson’s curling program apart from others at different schools.

“Where do you get a chance to, in your own backyard at your school … to watch the best curling talent in the world (and) get a chance to interact with the athletes?” he said.

Since 2014, the Players’ Championship has been held in Toronto. The tournament has been around since 1993 for men, and 2006 for women. This is one of the final events held on the World Curling Tour, and the oldest one in the tournament.

The Players’ Championship is happening from April 9 to 14. Twelve men’s teams and 12 women’s teams from around the world are set to compete in what is the fourth major event of the curling season. The teams are competing for the Pinty Cup, along with a $300,000 prize, split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions.

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