After devastating West Final heartbreak at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the past two seasons, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have decided to try their luck with a new sport.
This weekend, Regina Exhibition Association Limited celebrated National Curling Day in Canada at their inaugural Frost Festival by converting the home of the Riders, Mosaic Stadium, into a curling venue. An exhibition Skins Game pitted Regina’s Matt Dunstone and his team against that of former Olympian Kevin Koe, the first time a curling game had ever been played outdoors on a CFL field.
Throughout much of the offseason, Mosaic Stadium is transformed into Iceville, Saskatchewan’s largest outdoor skating rink. At 90,000 square feet, it is roughly six times the size of a standard rink.
Given the venue, there was plenty of Rider flare on display. The hometown favourites Team Dunstone were afforded the team’s locker room in preparation and equipment manager Gordon Gilroy equipped the skip with his very own Rider helmet for the occasion. The green and white headwear powered him to victory, as Team Dunstone took home $21,500 dollars of the available $25,000 prize money.
Despite the loss, Regina-born Ben Hebert, who throws lead stone for Koe’s Calgary-based team called Mosaic Stadium a dream venue.
“It’s the best because we’re not just curlers, but we’re big sports fans too. Growing up in Saskatchewan, the boys are big Rider fans. I’ve watched them my whole life and I used to be a season-ticket holder. I was even here for last year’s West semi-final,” Hebert told Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post.
“It’s the best outdoor stadium in the country and there isn’t anything even close, in my opinion. It’s super-cool to have a curling event here, which is something I had never dreamed of happening. We had the skaters out there and curling right here. It’s what winter sports are all about in Canada.”
Not to be outdone, members of the Riders took to the ice on Sunday morning to try their hand at the Canadian past time. Regina-born receiver Mitch Picton threw the first stone like a seasoned pro.
That form from @MitchPicton26 though… ????
— Saskatchewan Roughriders (@sskroughriders) February 6, 2022
As of yet, there is no word of just how good the Riders’ curling team could be, but with one player already in Beijing to compete in Olympic bobsleigh, the sky is the limit for cross-sport CFL athletes.
Setting their sights on the Brier might be an effective way to circumvent the Bombers West Division dominance and the good news for quarterback Cody Fajardo is it’s impossible to hit the crossbar while throwing stones at the house.