How this Calgary retirement home ‘adopted’ a young curling team from New Zealand | CBC News


Bertha Esplen says she’s a dedicated Brad Gushue fan, but now she has a new, second-favourite team. 

It’s Team Hood — the New Zealand men’s curling team — who are also her new roommates at Chartwell Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence in Calgary. 

“I’m cheering for them when they’re not curling Brad,” Esplen said. 

There are a limited number of curling rinks in New Zealand and a small pool of players, which is why the team came to Calgary to practice. They’ve got their eyes on qualifying for the World Men’s Curling Championship 2024 in Switzerland, and eventually the 2026 Olympics. 

A man throws a curling rock.
New Zealand skip Anton Hood throws while taking on Canada at the Men’s World Curling Championship in Ottawa in April. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“Canada is the hub of curling in the world. We knew if we wanted to be good, this was the place to do it,” said skip Anton Hood. 

After the team’s request for accommodation was shared on Facebook, it turned out that the northwest Calgary retirement home checked the right boxes. The team shares two apartment units within the complex. 

They’ve been there for about a week-and-a-half, and Hood said the team has quickly been welcomed. 

“We stop and talk to someone for five minutes, someone else for five minutes. So for us to get down a hallway, it takes us about 20 minutes when it’s a 30-second straight beeline,” Hood said. 

WATCH | The New Zealand’s men’s curling team is calling Calgary home for the winter

The New Zealand men’s curling team has found an unlikely stay in Calgary

Residents at Chartwell Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence have some new roommates. A team of curlers from New Zealand have moved in for four months.

When the group isn’t at practice, they plan to play shuffleboard, spend time with the residents, and recently tried a caesar — Calgary’s signature cocktail — for the first time. 

“I think we’ve gained about another 100 supporters. We might be their second favourite team after the top Canadian teams, but we’ve been adopted by them,” said Hood.

Vice-skip Brett Sargon said the team knows that their time in Calgary will give them a competitive edge. 

“The depth of competition in Alberta is insane. We know anybody that we step on the ice against here is going to give us a competitive game,” he said. 

Three men cheers with cans.
Team Hood is staying at Chartwell Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence in northwest Calgary. (Helen Pike/CBC)

“We know we’re going to lose quite a few games over here and we accept that. We know that’s all part of the process, but we’re hoping to learn and develop as we go and end up winning more than we lose by the time we leave.” 

Besides the residence offering “shuffleboard, pool table, everything you need really,” Sargon said it’s nice being around people who know about the sport. 

“The knowledge base of curling here is absolutely crazy. Even people here who haven’t curled before, they know what curling is — for a start. A lot of time back home you have to kind of explain to them what curling is,” he said. 

The team will be staying at the residence until December, and until then, Sargon said, “we promised to invite [the residents] to any parties that we have.” 


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