Defending champ set to return

They've never curled in Parksville, but team is confident they'll be remembered here

Defending BC Mens’ champion. Skip Jim Cotter

Defending BC Mens’ champion. Skip Jim Cotter

Defending BC Mens champion, Vernon skip Jim Cotter, has never curled in Parksville, “but I’ve heard lots about it … I’ve heard it’s really good ice there, that it’s quick and keen.”

Contacted in the Interior last week, Cotter and his rink had just returned home from Dawson Creek for the third and final Grand Slam event where they lost the semi-final to Glenn Howard from Ontario — currently ranked second in the world.

They went 4-1 in round robin and 6-2 including playoffs. There was around $100,00 in prize money up for grabs with $25,000 going to the first place team.

“Oh yeah,” he agreed when asked if the competition is as tough as it sounds. “It’s great to play those top teams, especially before the provincials. It was a good tune-up.”

Cotter and his rink are due to arrive today (Tuesday) and they take to the ice for their first draw Wednesday morning with a new  second, and looking to build on last year when they finished middle of the pack at the Brier, the Men’s National Championships held in London, Ontario.

Also making trip to P-ville to coach the team is two-time Men’s World Champion and Canadian curling icon Rick Folk. Rick’s son Kevin, who was a Junior World Champion in 2000, plays third on the team.

“This is our second year with him — Rick’s been a huge asset to our team; as a former skip he sees things that we don’t.”

“It’s a real big commitment,” Cotter confirmed, explaining, “I have three kids (and) it takes up a lot of your time, but we’re all dedicated to the game and we have been for some time. We enjoy playing … the great thing about curling is that you have so many friends and it’s always great to catch up with them.”

Cotter, 37, has been curling since he was nine, “so about 28 years or something like that.”

Three of the members on the team won the BCs in 2008 and went on to finish fourth at the Brier.

In 2009 at the pre-Olympic trials they lost the qualifying game by a couple points.

Jim also went to the Olympic Trials with Pat Ryan in 2005.

Cotter and company are currently ranked 16th in the world — their best ranking to date was seventh two years ago.

Their season started back in October and the team has competed in six events since.

“Getting back to the brier is every curlers dream, so you basically set up your season of training and playing and competing to set yourself up to peak at the provincials.”

This year’s Brier is being held in Saskatoon and is expected to draw 20,000-plus people.

“It will be huge,” said Cotter, pointing out a few years ago curling had the second highest television viewing numbers in the country, behind only hockey and right in there with the CFL.

“We curl because we love the game not because of the money, that’s for sure,” he laughed when asked about all that travel and the cost to compete, pointing out, “we’re forking out six, seven grand, to go to some of those events back East.

“We’re really looking forward to going to Parksville,” he said. “Those small towns, those are the ones you want to be at because everyone gets into it.”