Bertha Esplen says she’s a Brad Gushue fan, but now she has a new team, the second seed.

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

“I cheer them on when they’re not curling with Brad,” Esplen said.

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

A man throws a curly stone.
New Zealand skipped Anton Hood’s pitches while facing Canada at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Ottawa in April. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“Canada is the center 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 housing request was shared on Facebook, it turned out the northwest Calgary retirement home fit the bill. 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 was quickly welcomed.

“We stop and talk to someone for five minutes, to another person for five minutes. So to get to a hallway, it takes us about 20 minutes when we’re in a 30-second straight line,” Hood said.

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The residents of Chartwell Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence have some new roommates. A team of New Zealand curlers has moved here for four months.

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

“I think we’ve gained about 100 more fans. We may be their second favorite team after the best Canadian teams, but they’ve adopted us,” Hood said.

Vice president Brett Sargon said the team knows their time in Calgary will give them a competitive advantage.

“The intensity of the competition in Alberta is crazy. We know that anyone we put on the ice against will give us a competitive game,” he said.

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

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

In addition to the residence offering “shuffleboard, pool table, everything you really need,” Sargon said it’s nice to be surrounded by people who know about the sport.

“The curling knowledge base here is absolutely crazy. Even people here who haven’t curled before know what curling is to begin with. A lot of times at home you have to explain to them what curling is.” he said.

The team will remain at the residence until December and until then, Sargón said, “we promised to invite [the residents] to any game we have.”