U18 curling nationals hit the ice this week

From Thursday (March 16) through until Sunday, Nanaimo is hosting the Curl B.C. U18 championships.

Curling is front and centre this week, with a thrilling Brier just concluded and a provincial tournament being held in our city.

It was truly a storybook ending last Sunday at the Canadian men’s championship in St. John’s. Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue won the title in front of a hometown crowd, drawing with his final rock to edge defending champions Team Canada skipped by Kevin Koe by a 7-6 score. An emotional win and a first Brier title for Gushue, who now moves on to represent Canada at the men’s worlds in Edmonton.

Closer to home, another set of curling playdowns is set to get underway at the Nanaimo Curling Centre on Wall Street. From Thursday (March 16) through until Sunday, Nanaimo is hosting the Curl B.C. U18 championships. A total of 16 top boys’ and girls’ teams representing all regions of the province will take part in the competition. Teams arrive Thursday and will get in some practice time before enjoying a welcoming banquet that evening.

Representing the Vancouver Island zone in the boys’ competition will be the Duncan Silversides team from Victoria. In girls’ competition, Vancouver Island will be represented by the Rebecca Douglas rink featuring players from Parksville, Alberni Valley and Victoria. Winning boys’ and girls’ teams from the provincials will advance to represent British Columbia at U18 nationals, to be held April 17-22 in Moncton, N.B..

An organizing committee of volunteers from NCC have been busy for weeks, working to ensure that the Nanaimo event will be top-notch. Heading up the team are co-chairs Marg Obee and Bob Franklin.

It will be my pleasure to act as MC for the opening ceremonies which will be held at 9 a.m. on Friday (March 17), followed by competitive draws at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Competition will continue throughout Saturday. Then, finals in the boys’ and girls’ divisions will be held at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Closing ceremonies and presentations will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday upstairs at the club. Spectators are welcome to attend and watch some of the top young curlers in the province and admission is free.

Also happening this week, a pair of NCC teams is involved in provincial playoffs of their own. Two teams from Nanaimo won their events in the Pacific Coast Masters Curling Association Zone 4 playoffs held in Nanaimo last month. The wins give both teams entry into the Masters Combined Provincial Championships this week in Cloverdale/Langley. Representing their club is the ladies’ team of skip Obee, third Noreen Martin, second Jill McGlenen, lead Moyra Graham and fifth player Sharon Stonehouse. The Nanaimo men’s team comprises skip Ron Kulai, third Darryl Graham, second Dan Danylchuk, lead Vic Brice and fifth player Jim Forrester.

Meanwhile, we’re now into the final weeks of the regular curling season locally. The third square of the senior men’s 55-plus league recently concluded. In one division, top team was that of Fred Withey, Kyle Clifford, Josh Purney and Pat Meehan. In the other, winners were Gord Smeeton and his teammates David Pettigrew, Kevin Hood and Tom Bates.

From the Tuesday night men’s league, third square winners were Steve Waatainen, Bart Sawyer, Craig Burton and Keith Clarke in A division and Jason White, Bob Cavezza, Glyn Doyle and Brendan Plamondon in B division. C division winners were Ian Cook, Dave Fraser, Ross Barnard, Lee Venables and Gerry Roy, while tops in D division were skip Kevin Franklin and his team of Blair Franklin, Steven Franklin and Bob Bryans.

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