21-year Canadian-Korean reunion in North Bay

  • Dave Cerisano and KyungDoo Kim with World Curling President Kate Caithness © WCF / Jeffrey Au

Ultimately, sporting world championships are about titles and medals, but in curling – perhaps more than other sports – they are about friendships and memories too; friendships made through sport that last for a lifetime, sometimes with unexpected consequences.

Here in North Bay – the 2018 host of the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship – in 1997 one friendship was formed that played a part in the birth of Korea as an emerging curling powerhouse, complete with Olympic silver medals and world championship appearances by EunJung Kim’s popular team. That’s because 1997 saw an inaugural visit by a group of inquisitive Korean would-be curlers, led by KyungDoo Kim (Better known as KD) to North Bay, where they met local resident and curling organiser Dave Cerisano and the North Bay curling family.

During the closing weekend of the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in North Bay, Dave and KD managed to meet up again, and the reminiscing started.

As Dave explains, back then the Koreans were keen to get involved in curling to let them take part in Pacific Rim competitions, so where else to learn than Canada? Cerisano said: “they came over and wanted some experience and the Jamaica bonspiel in North Bay was the only event with any space left in North America – that was what brought them here. They brought 20-some athletes, mostly in their teens with one or two 20-year-olds.”

So, what happened next? Kim shed some light: “1997 was the first time that Korean curlers came here and so many North Bay people were very kind, just like family, so we have very good memories of them. The first time I came to Canada I came to North Bay and met Dave, so it was all a very good experience. We realised that curling was a very enjoyable, family sport so we developed it in Korea with boys and girls.”

Some of those early girls were pupils at Uiseong Girls' High School, including all the members of EunJung Kim’s Olympic silver medal team, who finished fifth at the North Bay world championship. KD’s daughter MinJung Kim is coach to the Korean team and, thinking about everything that has happened since that original tentative expedition in 1997, he said: “when I think about it all and now I see us getting Olympic silver medals, coming back here is a good memory for everybody.”