B.C. mens curling title back in town

Local curling fans may want to secure their tickets early for this year’s B.C. Men’s Curling Championships. Above:  Royal City skip Mike Johnson, who placed third last year, is back for another shot.  - James Clarke
Local curling fans may want to secure their tickets early for this year’s B.C. Men’s Curling Championships. Above: Royal City skip Mike Johnson, who placed third last year, is back for another shot.
— image credit: James Clarke

Local curling fans have to be feeling blessed these days, what with all the action slated for Oceanside this winter, including of course the B.C. Mens Curling Championships which are coming to town next week for the second straight year.

Penny Shantz is back for her second time as event chair of the biggest event in provincial men’s curling. Shantz and her dedicated team of volunteers did such a great job hosting the event at Parksville Curling Club last year, Curl BC asked them to do it again.

“We definitely said yes right away,” she answered quickly when asked if they had to think about it — it is after-all a lot of work.

“We didn’t hesitate,” she said, adding “it was really successful last year. It was god for Parksville, it was good for the curling club, it was good for everybody.”

GAME ON:  Slated for Feb. 6-10 at Parksville Curling Club, the opening draw of the 2013 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Mens Curling Championships goes Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. with the opening ceremonies slated for 6:30 p.m. (prior to the final draw of the day).

There will be three draws daily with the semifinals slated for Saturday night (7:30 p.m.) and the finals on Sunday in a 5 p.m. start.

As always, there’s a lot on the line for the 16 teams that have qualified for the provincial showdown, as only the winner advances to the Brier (the Men’s national championships) in Edmonton the first week of March. The World Championships for those following along at home are being held in Victoria in April.

“Great curling,” Shantz said when asked what fans of the game can expect.

Defending BC champ Jim Cotter and his Kelowna rink, which features a new 3rd, had a free berth in the big show and come to town with a hot hand.

They’re one of the BC Teams that have attended all three of Sports Net’s Grand Slam Events held across Canada. They made it to the final and came up short in the tour’s first stop in Ontario back in November and made final-8 at stop number two in Kelowna. The team was in Nova Scotia last weekend for the third stop and lost to eventual winner Jeff Stoughton from Manitoba.

“To make it to the final is pretty darned good. They are currently ranked 10th in Canada and14th in the World.

Proving there is money to be made in the hollering game, Cotter and his rink have won $35,000 in prize money so far this season.

Back too is Royal City Curling Club skip Brent Pierce and his team — they went undefeated at last year’s BC Men’s and lost to Cotter in the final in a game that came down to the last rock. Shantz says the Pierce rink, currently ranked 25th in the world, worked their way back to the BC’s this year for leading the provincial points race, “and have done very well on the cash ‘speil circuit this year.”

Hard-throwing Mike Johnson, also from the Jay Wakefield rink out of the Royal City Curling Club in New West, who placed 3rd last year, is also back for another run at the title.

The Island has three rinks in the mix at this year’s Men’s — the Jason Montgomery rink along with Jay Tuson and Neil Dangerfield’s teams — all three rinks are out of the Victoria Curling Club.

Curl BC’s official ice-maker, BJ Gagnon from Abbotsford, will be back as well helping the local crew get the rink ready.

“It’s been really good” Shantz said of the process this time around. “I have pretty much the same committee as we had last year — we’ve just been tweaking it to make it better.”

Worth noting is that like last year, there are some 180 volunteers helping out all together and a committe numbering 25 strong.

“Everybody has a job, it makes it a lot easier,” said Shantz, a former high level curler herself.

The cost to watch is $5 a draw, or $40 for a full event pass with tickets available at the door.

There is a concession and a licensed lounge — every spectator gets a warm throw or seat cushion when they come in the door courtesy of the event’s title sponsor Canadian Direct Insurance.

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