Curlers prove adaptable at bonspiel

The season is now heading into its final stages, but there is still plenty of excellent curling action on tap at this time of year.

The season is now heading into its final stages, but there is still plenty of excellent curling action on tap at this time of year. Bonspiels have been on the slate locally and a world championship is about to get underway just down the road…

There was a bit of an upset this year at the Canadian men’s championships. At the Brier in Edmonton, the young team from Northern Ontario skipped by Brad Jacobs surprised the favourites to finish on top. Alberta’s Kevin Martin didn’t make the playoffs, defending champion Glenn Howard from Ontario had to settle for third place and Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton was swept away 11-4 in the final by a Jacobs team that played brilliantly. The Northern Ontario foursome now advances to represent Canada at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championships, to be held March 30-April 7 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

This past week the attention shifted to women’s curling, as Canada competes at the World Women’s Championships being held in Latvia. Representing our country is skip Rachel Homan and her Ontario team, making their first appearance at the international competition. The women’s worlds wraps up with playoff games today and tomorrow.

A pair of bonspiels have taken place within the past couple of weeks at our local curling facility. On March 9, the Nanaimo Curling Centre hosted the 14th annual Family Bonspiel. Dorina Medland, Shaelyn Rice and their committee organized the event, which saw a dozen teams with players of all ages take part.

At the end of the day’s friendly competition, first place went to the Franklin family team, consisting of Kevin Franklin, Blair Franklin, Steven Franklin, Lisa Franklin and Trevor Franklin. Runner-up was the MacDonald team of John MacDonald, Dakota Stevens, Don MacDonald and Mary Lou Haines.

Claiming third place was the Hubbard team of Jamee Hubbard, Owen Braun, Bob Franklin, Glen Hubbard, Bernie Hubbard and Laura Braun. Fourth overall was the Sirk family team comprised of Adam Sirk, Suzanne Sirk and Dan Sirk.

March 14-15 saw the introduction of a new bonspiel format for local curlers. Organized by Gord Borbandy, Craig Turnbull, Ron Kaneen and other members of the Senior Men’s division, a Stick Rules Bonspiel was successfully held at NCC.

Instead of the traditional 4-person teams, each team in this format consisted of just two people, at least one of whom had to use a delivery stick when throwing their rocks. During each end of play, one partner would hold the target broom while the other threw rocks. The two delivering curlers alternately delivered six stones per end, then reversed roles with those holding the broom. Sweeping was only allowed by skips as their team rocks came into the house.

After initial questions were answered, curlers quickly adapted to the new format and most seemed to really enjoy the unique experience. A total of 24 teams took part, including five from Parksville and two teams of wheelchair curlers.

Teams played two games on the Thursday, then based on those results were seeded into divisions for games on Friday. Results tabulated after the final set of games saw first and second places in A group captured by Parksville entries. In first came Ralph Hook and Jeff Leany, with Dennis Cassidy and Allan Thomas second. Third in A went to the Nanaimo team of Archie McIntosh and Nori Nishio.

Local teams swept top spots in the bonspiel’s B event. In first place was the team of Ron Kaneen and Merv Osler. Second was claimed by Al and Linda Torgerson, with third going to Ron Kulai and Jay Belinski.

Top team in C event was that of Ben Sedgewick and Val Fenton of Nanaimo, with Nels Symbaluk and myself in second place. Third in C went to the Parksville pairing of Reg Johanson and Ken Meuken. In D event, Nanaimo’s Raeto and Yvonne Schmidhauser were first, Bill Turner and Roger Hermant second and Linda Olsen and Tom Meek third.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.