Mixed provincials part of great curling season

The Curl B.C. mixed championships are being held here in Nanaimo today (March 15) through Sunday.

Playdowns for competitive curling teams are quickly coming to an end for this year.

World championships are the final step for top level teams and for the women those begin today in Lethbridge, Alta. Representing our country will be skip Heather Nedohin and her Alberta squad thanks to their win at the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts. As for the men, last Sunday gave us an exciting final to the Tim Hortons Brier in Saskatoon. After having gotten to the national final the past two years and been defeated, skip Glenn Howard was not to be denied this time around. The gentlemanly Howard and his Ontario team prevailed over Alberta’s Kevin Koe in the championship final and now advance to the world championships that begin March 31 in Switzerland.

A number of local curling teams from various age divisions embarked on the long Curl B.C. playoff road this season. Here’s a quick recap of how some of them fared…

We’ll start with the Nanaimo junior women’s team of Kesa Van Osch, Kalia Van Osch, Marika Van Osch and Brooklyn Leitch. The Van Osch squad, coached by Jim Newlands, advanced to the provincial championships in Victoria where they captured the B.C. title. That sent the team to represent our province at the junior nationals in Ontario last month, where they did extremely well to place third overall.

Also wearing provincial jackets is the senior women’s team of Penny Shantz, Debbie Jones-Walker, Debbie Pulak and Shirley Wong. The Shantz foursome won its regional playdowns in Mill Bay, then went on to become B.C. champions at the provincials held in Kelowna. The team will be competing at the nationals beginning today (March 17) in Abbotsford.

In women’s playdowns, Nanaimo’s Darah Provencal played third on the Marilou Richter rink from Richmond that competed the Scotties B.C. championships this year. Also there was Nicole Backe from Nanaimo, skipping a team from New Westminster. Both Richter and Backe finished with 5-4 records at the provincials, where Kelowna’s Kelly Scott emerged as champion.

At the juvenile women’s level, coach Cindy Van Osch saw her team of Marika Van Osch, Dallyce Gillespie, Katherine Silversides and Syndey Britz win the zone playdowns held at Lake Cowichan. The team thus qualified to compete at the B.C. Winter Games held last month in Vernon, where they earned a silver medal.

Masters women’s Island playdowns in Powell River involved a pair of local teams. Marg Obee, Noreen Martin, Moyra Graham and Gertie Pick, coached by Gloria Palinkas, went 1-2 in the competition. Coach Ron Kaneen and his team of Sally Noonan, Jill McGlenen, Sharon Luttrell and Shirley Cookman were successful in earning a berth to provincials in Grand Forks but did not advance to the playoff round.

At men’s Island playdowns in Campbell River this season, 10 teams took part. The lone Nanaimo entry was that of Steve Waatainen, Kevin Weinreich, Sean Krepps and Keith Clarke. The locals were successful in earning a berth to men’s provincials held in Parksville last month, but there bowed out in three games.

Nanaimo did not field any junior men’s teams this year, but did send two teams to the juvenile men’s zone playdowns in Lake Cowichan. Blair Franklin coached the group of Steven Franklin, Jarrod Nobel, Jusin Siempelkamp and Dakota Nyman. Bob Franklin was the coach for John MacDonald, Brenden Booth, Dakota Stevens, Brendan Sandberg and fifth player Riley Hoesing. The MacDonald squad posted a 3-2 record for second place overall.

A total of 23 teams competed at the senior men’s interregional playdowns this year in New Westminster. Only one local entry was involved, but the foursome of Frank Smith, Garry Smith, Ferdy Hobson and Rick Ringma did not advance.

Lake Cowichan was the site for mixed Coastal playdowns last month, where a pair of local squads was among the 13-team field. Joe Green, Brenda Ridgway, Kevin Weinreich and Leslie Shearer bowed out 0-3, while Mark Knutson, Nicole Backe, Keith Clarke and Toni Lepore compiled a 2-3 record before being eliminated.

The top four mixed teams from the coastal region, along with the top four from the interior region, are competing this week at the Curl B.C. mixed championships being held here in Nanaimo. The triple knockout event starts today (March 15) with draws at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tomorrow’s draws are at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Saturday’s action goes at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Sunday, the semifinal is at 9 a.m. and the provincial final at 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome at the Nanaimo Curling Centre on Wall Street, with admission by donation.

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

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.

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