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Help wanted for Olympic trials

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The call is out for volunteers for the city’s next curling spectacle, and organizers are expecting Winnipeggers to once again answer the bell.

The Canadian Olympic Curling Trials — also known as the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings — won’t see its first rock thrown at the MTS Centre until Dec. 1, 2013. But the push to find more than 900 volunteers officially begins this Dec. 7.

Gail Cabana-Coldwell, the host committee’s executive vice-chair, said more than 400 people have already expressed interest in volunteering to Curl Manitoba’s office.

On Dec. 7, anyone wishing to take part in the event will be able to register on the Canadian Curling Association’s website, curling.ca.

"They’ll be able to find a whole list of volunteer areas that need help," said the Westwood resident, who curls at Deer Lodge and Charleswood. "We try to match them with areas that they’d like to volunteer in."

People will be needed to help with everything from driving teams to maintaining the ice to serving drinks in the Patch — the massive bar that will take over the Winnipeg Convention Centre for nine days.

Cabana-Coldwell is no stranger to working at major curling events in the city. She drove the spouses of the Nova Scotia team at the 1998 Brier, and Colleen Jones’s silver medal-winning Canadian team at the 2003 World Championships. She then joined the host committee for the 2008 Brier.

"You’ve just gotta be there," Cabana-Coldwell said. "You’ve got to be working, doing your part. It’s great for the city. I just think Winnipeg — the whole province — has a huge volunteer pool. We’re known for stepping to the plate when the call goes out."

Each volunteer will be asked to commit to working 24 hours over the course of the event. Their photo accreditation will give them access to the arena and the Patch when they aren’t working.

"We’re expecting it to be a popular event, ticket-wise," Cabana-Coldwell said. "So if they want a seat, they probably want to get a ticket."

The last major event in Winnipeg, the 2008 Brier, required upwards of 1,200 volunteers. Cabana-Coldwell said the CCA has streamlined some of its event operations since then, reducing the number of volunteers needed.

The Olympic Trials are considered by many curling people to be the best event in the sport. With eight men’s and eight women’s teams playing for a trip to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the field is much stronger than a typical Brier or Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which require teams from each province, regardless of their pedrigree.

Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton earned a spot in the field on Sunday by winning the Canada Cup of Curling. Jennifer Jones’s rink had already earned a berth.

"It’s going to be the best curling in the world," Cabana-Coldwell said.

Tickets for the event went on sale last month, and are also available at curling.ca.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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