Outside the Parksville Curling Club last weekend, temperatures soaring to nearly 30 degrees indicated summer was still in full swing.
On the newly installed ice inside the club, well, it was pretty much summer there, too.
The Parksville club kicked off the 2017-18 curling season on Vancouver Island when it hosted its 14th annual Summer Bonspiel Friday through Sunday at the club at Parksville Community Park.
While visitors to the community strolled the nearby beach in shorts and tank tops, and local pickleball regulars sweated through matches on courts in the adjacent lacrosse box, a banner lineup of 31 mostly mixed teams took the first steps toward getting in curling shape for the coming season.
“We’ve had more injuries in this bonspiel than I’ve ever experienced before,” said Jim Hoffman, bonspiel director. “You’re pretty rusty from the summer because your muscles arent used to this, and nobody’s had any practice time.”
“We’re pretty rusty,” admitted Dave Douglas of Port Alberni, who curled on a Parksville rink that included his daughter and team skip, Rebecca Douglas, as well as his mother, Nancy Douglas, and Pat Slobodzian. “It got better after the first game; we picked it up as the weekend went on.”
Team Douglas reached the semifinals of the A event Sunday before bowing out in a loss to the mixed Nanaimo/Victoria team of Kalia Van Osch.
Miles Craig of Shawnigan Lake piloted his rink to the overall bonspiel title, downing Van Osch in the title match. Parksville skip Bruce Feltham, teamed with Penny Shantz, Derek Ryan and Lisa Stekelenburg, claimed the B event title. Another local rink, skipped by Ken Stobbs with Judy Pearson, Jennifer Desvaux and Ray Gamracy, reached the semifinals of the C event before falling to eventual C winner Cody Tanaka of Abbotsford.
Teams came from as far away as Edmonton and Portland, Ore., the latter drawn by the presigious Four Foot Curling Camp hosted by the club Aug. 21-24, immediately before the bonspiel.
Other than a September bonspiel at the club in Kerry Park, Hoffman said, Parksville has the only summer ice available on Vancouver Island.
“That’s why our team count is up,” said Hoffman, noting turnout jumped from 23 teams a year ago. “Lake Cowichan used to have a summer bonspiel, and Powell River used to have one. But they weren’t getting enough teams and had to give them up. So most of ‘em are coming here.”
Longtime Parksville club member and volunteer Terry Miller said the success of Parksville Curling Club extends beyond simply having the “only game in town” for summer curlers.
Club membership is up, Miller said, bolstered by registration of newcomers to the community. A new, closed-circuit television system — designed by club members — was recently installed featuring cameras over each house of the club’s five ice sheets and dedicated screens for each sheet in the spectator area. And the club will host the televised B.C. Men’s Curling Championships Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2018.
“A lot of curling clubs are not flourishing these days,” said Miller. “We’re the exception.”
Registration for men’s, women’s and mixed teams is ongoing for Parksville Curling Club’s upcoming season, which begins Sept. 25. For more info, call 250-248-3764 or visit online at www.parksvillecurling.com.