The 55th annual B.C. Firefighters Curling Championships are in the can, and the Qualicum and District Curling Club certainly delivered in their first time ever hosting the big event.
“It was a lot of hard work that paid off, as it was a hugely successful championship,” confirmed Don Marshall, Oceanside Firefighters Curling Association president and event chair.
The championship, which featured 25 teams of career and volunteer firefighters from big cities and small towns all across B.C., with a new entry this year from Port Hardy, was hosted by the Oceanside Firefighters Curling Association, “a group of local volunteer firefighters who have curled in this event for the past four years and wanted to bring the event to their home curling club.”
A lot of curling to be sure, there were nine draws a day for two days starting last Thursday with the playoffs Saturday, as such there was plenty of great curling to be had for the spectators that turned out and in the end, Brad Clarke, a retired Battalion Chief with the Saanich Fire Dept. and his rink hung on to win the title for the 11th and final time — this is the last year his team intends on curling together — and as such will be representing BC at the Canadian Firefighters Curling Championship in St. John, New Brunswick, March 22-31.
According to Marshall, the Clarke rink had gone through undefeated through the A Event, and being a double knock-out competition (featuring 10-end games instead of the usual eight enders), they had to be beaten twice by the Al Heath Rink from Burnaby.
The Heath team beat the Clarke rink handily in the first game, setting the table for a ‘winner take all’ final on Saturday.
“The game was back and forth in a very well-played game with Marshall having to make a tough shot on the last rock of the 10th end to win the championship 7-6,” said Marshall, adding the Clarke rink was forced to play the final two games with only three players, as second Colin Mantik had a slip in the A final and was seriously injured and could not play the rest of the event.
There were three local teams in the mix: Marshall and his rink — third Greg Roberts, second Tristan Jack and lead Mike Hamilton — finished seventh overall and lost to last years champion Don Burrus from the Burnaby Fire Department in an extra end Saturday morning.
“All of the visiting firefighters commented on how great this year’s event was with many of the long time firefighters commenting that this event reminded them of the way it was 25 years ago with all the volunteer support helping to make it a great event,” a bushed but pleased Marshall said after, pointing out “there were well over 40 volunteers at the curling club throughout the weekend including the host committee spouses, members of the curling club who helped out in the lounge, with the scoreboards, cooking breakfast every morning for the players, setting up the hall for the banquet and ice technician Eric O’Reilly and some of his staff who also volunteered their time.
There were also well over 25 volunteer shuttle drivers who provided a service for more than 14 hours a day to get the players between the Qualicum & District Curling Club and the host hotel, the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre. Many of these drivers were off duty or retired paramedics, volunteer firefighters, curling club members, town employees “and other volunteers from our community who offered to assist in our hosting this prestigious event.
“Without the support from our generous sponsors and volunteers, this event would not have been as successful as it was,” said Marshall, adding: “It’s a huge event for the community and they want us to host it again.”
In 1980 a record 81 teams showed up in Kelowna for the BCFCC’s.