Gelowitz, Host rinks take Masters

Eunie Anderson, 91, watches her ceremonial first rock during the opening ceremonies of the BC Masters Curling Championships, held in Qualicum Beach over the weekend.  - James Clarke photo
Eunie Anderson, 91, watches her ceremonial first rock during the opening ceremonies of the BC Masters Curling Championships, held in Qualicum Beach over the weekend.
— image credit: James Clarke photo

Qualicum Beach B skip Rick Dunn came up three rocks short in his quest for a provincial title, but the 2011 BC Masters Curling Championships were still a slam dunk.

Eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams converged on Qualicum Beach & District Curling Club last week, and local fans of the game turned out en masse to take in some great games.

The big bonspiel, featuring the top curlers in the province aged 60-plus, kicked off last Thursday, and Friday saw an impressive opening ceremonies as the club’s youth curlers led the 16 teams out onto the ice behind piper Jim McNight and an RCMP colour guard.

Tournament co-chair Eileen Leachman got the ball rolling. Club member Cliff Reynolds did a bang up job belting out the national anthem; and dignitaries Ron Cantelon, MLA, acting Mayor Barry Avis, Curl BC liaison Judie Roberts, and QBDCC president Tom Freeman all took the mike as well to welcome the players and spectators.

“I love curling — it’s part of me,” said Avis, who was part of the team that won the club’s men’s title about six years ago.

“We’re so fortunate because not only do we have the senior ladies provincial champions from this rink (Lynne Noble’s team), we are also hosting the Masters with the Rick Dunn rink in the mix ... for a little four sheet rink; it’s the best little town in the world, and what a great group of volunteers that have helped pull this all together.”

After the speeches, Qualicum’s grand old dame of curling, 91-year-old Eunie Anderson, delivered the ceremonial first rock, and was joined by fellow stalwarts Irene Creally, Tats Aoki and Orlan Rye on the brooms.

Eunie has been a member of QBDCC since it opened in 1964 and the much-loved curler has never missed a season. She is also an honourary lifetime member of the club.

“I was all shaky at first and I don’t know why,” the delightful senior answered with a big smile when asked how it felt to be part of the opening ceremonies.

District champs and home town favourite Dunn and his rink — third Rob Findlay, second Bart Longmore and lead Garry Nolan — won their opening game against Ralph Will from Sparwood 8-4, and thumped Ken Watson and his Richmond rink 9-3 in game two. The locals lost game three Friday afternoon — 6-2 to Vernon’s Ron Heuman — but bounced back Sunday morning by clobbering 2008 National Masters’ champion Rick Pughe from Royal City, 10-3.

Team Dunn’s road to the nationals — only the winners advanced to the Canadian championships in Winnipeg March 30-April 5 —came to an end in the final Sunday afternoon with a hard-fought 4-2 loss to defending BC Masters champ Garry Gelowitz from Kelowna.

 On the women’s side of the draw, Karin Host from Richmond edged Margaret Obee from Nanaimo 6-5 in their final.

In the end, “Qualicum has done a fantastic job hosting the Masters,” Roberts said Sunday, pointing out that 12 of the 16 feedback forms handed out to the respective teams had been returned.

“And every one of them ranked (the bonspiel) as excellent; from the curling to the town to the friendliness of the people — they just can’t say enough.”

With over 45 years experience as a player and 20 involved in the administrative side as well, Roberts, from Nanaimo, is no stranger to the game. She was Curl BC’s first-ever female president back in 2006/2007.

 As a dual bonspiel featuring 32 men and 32 women, she pointed out, “it’s a big event.

“Excellent curling,” she answered quickly when asked about the caliber of play, then made the point “some people think at over 60 they should be looking for a sturdy walker and a comfy chair, but that’s just not the case — most of these curlers are in great physical shape and they’re also really good curlers, plus they have that experience ... what they lack in youth they make up for in guile,” she chuckled, adding, “curling is often described as chess on ice, and at this level it’s very much a chess match.”


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