The talented winning team: Air Canada’s Jaime Plante, Carla Brake from Insight and Mart Stubbert of Carlson Wagonlit (missing: Virtuoso’s Cindy Nelson)
A variety of curling styles were used
Cute as a button: Singapore Airlines’ Les Kovacs with Ama’s Neil Dudley
Can you say PyeongChang? My 3-man team included Sam Cottar of GoWay and Porter’s Dennis Lowry
Curling: the sport of launching a large rock down an ice rink towards a bullseye-shaped target. Sort of like horizontal darts, except also with people holding brooms who like to be yelled at.
How hard can it be?
Well hard and easy, as a group of elite travel industry suppliers discovered at the 4th annual Carlson Wagonlit Travel Bonspiel Sweeeeep! Hosted by Úna O’Leary, Senior Director of Marketing & Supplier Management/North America for CWT and her team, it was a day of learning, fun, laughter and camaraderie.
Key to the success of the event was that you did NOT have to have any curling experience. As someone who had never used the word “curling” except in conjunction with the word “iron” this was very reassuring.
It also helped that we had generous, patient and encouraging support from the Scarboro Golf and Country Club’s curling members, who were keen to introduce many of us to the sport. And who did not roll their eyes when asked: “What do I do with the slidey foot thing?” and “Is counter-clockwise this way or that way?”
There was a nice mix of some 40 attendees from suppliers including Rocky Mountaineer, Princess Cruises, Goway, Virtuoso, Globus and Air Canada. Plus some “real” curlers including Les Kovacs of Singapore Airlines and Neil Dudley of Ama Waterways.
After some coaching regarding rules, scoring and technique, we took to the ice (sheets), placed our feet in the plastic foot supports (hacks) and aimed our stones at the bullseye (house) – or to be more precise, the dead centre (the button). This is not to say we were yet experts: there was probably a lot more squealing than you’d find on an Olympic curling team, and people were happily sweeping for the opposition as well as their own players.
By afternoon we were much improved, with many rocks making it into the house – unlike the morning when they were littered over the ice like hubcaps after a car accident. For a fleeting moment, I was even top scorer!
They say if you play a game with someone for an hour you will learn more about them than if you talk with them for a week. I definitely learned what a fun group we have in our industry. On the ice, no shop was talked, no phones were out, just lots of laughter and encouragement amid chasing the odd errant rock.
And come the Olympics, I will be the one gesturing to the TV, informing my husband that it is, in fact, called the button.
Thanks CWT! Can’t wait to hurry hard with you all again next year!
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.