All kinds of talent at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings
- Updated: April 17, 2013
The 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, will feature an outstanding field encompassing the best 16 teams in the country, Dec. 1-8 at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
But, the challenge of hosting the Canadian Curling Trials – the prestigious competition to decide the men’s and women’s representatives that wear our country’s colours in the 2014 Olympic Games – also demands a team of the best players in the game at the organizational level.
John Helston, a veteran of the Manitoba curling scene, is one of the key shooters on a volunteer force that has its sights set on ensuring the crowds will be roaring at every draw during a memorable week in the home of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets.
Helston, a three-time national champion, has a clear understanding of the competitive nature of the game. He was part of the Mike Riley team that won the 1984 Brier, Jim Ursel’s 1991 senior’s champions and the 2004 master’s winners skipped by Martin Bailey.
His introduction as a volunteer came in 1978 when Winnipeg hosted the world men’s curling championship. “I worked on the telecommunications committee ” said Helston. “It was a chance to get your feet wet, and just become a bigger part of the curling fraternity… it was a lot of fun.”
As well as pursuing his championship goals on the ice, the long-time member of the Pembina Curling Club took an involvement in nurturing the future of the game through involvement in the club’s junior program.
“I eventually graduated from juniors to coaching women’s teams, and later in the men’s ranks.” said Helston. In 1997, he coached the Dave Smith team at the Canadian Curling Trials in Brandon.
“It was great exposure and opened up a lot of doors,” he said, looking back at the event that was ultimately won by Ontario’s Mike Harris, who went on to win an Olympic silver medal in Nagano, Japan.
After spending two years working in the telecommunications field in Saudi Arabia, Helston and wife Heather – both inductees to the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame – felt the urge to travel. The perfect opportunity presented itself in 2008 when he was hired as national coach for Denmark’s curling program.
One of the highlights of his tenure in Denmark was as coach of the 2009 junior men’s team that defeated Canada in the final of the world championship in Vancouver. The Danish skip at the time, Rasmus Stjerne, recently represented the country at the 2013 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Victoria, losing to Scotland’s David Murdoch in the bronze-medal game.
After two years of involvement at the international level, his coaching responsibilities are much closer to home these days. “We have a granddaughter curling now, so every Saturday morning we go out to the Pembina to help out. And, it’s still a lot of fun… when it quits being fun, you know it’s time to call it quits.”
Helston’s role in the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings sees him leading the way with promotions for local curling clubs and coordination of the schools program. “We’ve started with the 17 city clubs and they’ve all been great to work with.”
As for the overall impact on Winnipeg, Helston sees nothing but good coming out of the event for his hometown. “Obviously, it will have a major financial impact for the city, but it will also highlight a number of our top curlers… and our strong volunteer base which is right up there with any other city across the country.”
“You Gotta Be There” when Canada crowns our men’s and women’s teams for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Excellent seats for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings are available now by clicking here!