Prince Albert Golf and Curling Centre ends season early due to pandemic

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Skip Matt Dunstone delivers a rock as second Kirk Muyres and lead Dustin Kidby prepare to sweep at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Centre in November.

With team and group sports in Saskatchewan on hold until the end of the month at the earliest due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, curling clubs around the province have made the decision to shut their doors early.

One of those facilities is the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Centre, who elected to end its season earlier this month.

“After everything stopped at the end of November (when the initial guidelines were announced), the board of directors waited until the beginning of January before they made the decision to pull the plug,” coordinator and ice maker Glenn Rubuliak said. “The COVID-19 situation isn’t good anywhere and with it costing $8,000 a month to keep the ice in with the refrigeration costs and the electrical costs, those were some of the reasons that led us to make the decision to take the ice out.

“Right now we’re in the process of providing refunds to our members, or they are electing to push their fees into next year, where we will hopefully be back on the ice.”

Prior to the stoppage in play, the Curling Centre had been open for over a month and had played host to a Saskatchewan Curling Tour event in the middle of November, which was won by Matt Dunstone’s rink from Regina.

While Rubuliak’s first year at the club came to an early end, he expressed his gratitude to everyone that helped him out.

“Things are always different when you arrive at a new facility, but everyone here was so helpful in getting the year started,” said Rubuliak, who had worked as an ice maker and club manager in Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Fairview, Alta.

“We’ll see what happens when it comes to next year as my contract is up, but I hope to be back. If I’m not though, I just want to say to everyone that I’ve really enjoyed my time in Prince Albert.”

The Prince Albert Golf and Curling Centre isn’t the only club that has decided to close up shop early, as the Callie and Highland Curling Clubs in Regina, the Twin Rivers Curling Club in North Battleford, the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre, the Melfort Curling Club and the Swift Current Curling Club have all ended their seasons.

In an interview with Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post on Thursday, CURLSASK executive director Ashley Howard said that 26 clubs across the province never opened due to the pandemic and 46 clubs closed due to the shortened season.

The status of the other 72 clubs in the province was uncertain at the time of the article’s publication.