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How this Calgary retirement home 'adopted' a young curling team from New Zealand

Bertha Esplen says she's a dedicated Brad Gushue fan, but now she has a new, second-favourite team. 

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

"I'm cheering for them when they're not curling Brad," Esplen said. 

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

"Canada is the hub 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 request for accommodation was shared on Facebook, it turned out that the northwest Calgary retirement home checked the right boxes. 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 has quickly been welcomed. 

"We stop and talk to someone for five minutes, someone else for five minutes. So for us to get down a hallway, it takes us about 20 minutes when it's a 30-second straight beeline," Hood said. 

WATCH | The New Zealand's men's curling team is calling Calgary home for the winter

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

"I think we've gained about another 100 supporters. We might be their second favourite team after the top Canadian teams, but we've been adopted by them," said Hood.

Vice-skip Brett Sargon said the team knows that their time in Calgary will give them a competitive