The two curling clubs in Parksville Qualicum Beach are eager to get rocking in October.
The Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club have worked intensely in the last couple of months coming up with their return to play plan that would meet the guidelines set by the federal and provincial health authorities.
Both have opened up registrations for members only and so far it looks promising for both despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
PCC president Penny Shantz said they’ve already signed up more than 70 per cent of its membership – more than 200 members who are eager to curl.
“We had a great year last year and have surplus funds to sustain the club if registration did not go well,” said Shantz. “But they have been amazing so I think, we’re looking forward to maybe another good year. It’s been kind of a crazy year.”
Qualicum Beach Curling Club manager Bev Shaw indicated that many who are on the fence wanted to see the protocols that they’ve put in place.
“The registration has been brisk since we opened,” said Shaw, who added that there are members who will not play in the fall, which starts in October, but have registered for the winter session from January to mid-March.
Curl Canada has introduced some major changes to the game this season, which both clubs will be implementing this coming seson. Some of the notable modifications include using only one sweeper, no sweeping the opposition’s stone behind the T-line, on-ice player positioning, and there will be no pregame handshakes for players.
At this time, both clubs have cancelled bonspiels but have lined up more curling sessions.
Shantz said they have introduced triples curling, a game created by Curling Canada that has taken off in a big way in Edmonton. The season starts on Oct. 1.
“I really liked the idea of this game,” said Shantz. “You have three players and each player get to throw two rocks. Each player plays each position for two ends. So you are not stuck being the lead throughout the whole game. It’s good for the people that are stuck in one position and never get to move up. This kind of gives you a whole new deal.”
Instead of eight ends, the 3-on-3 game has only six ends. Shantz said the duration of the game is shorter just an hour-and-a-half to complete and it fits well with the physical distancing protocols.
“Having only three players, you only have one sweeper which helps with the social distancing,” said Shantz.
The club has started two leagues, one at 10 a.m. on Saturday and one at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Shantz said that they were surprised to see the 10 a.m. league is already full.
“The sign up for it was amazing,” said Shantz. “We just opened registration last week. Our stick curling league is also full. All of them. So I am thinking of adding another stick league on Saturday.”
At the Qualicum Beach Curling Club, Shaw said they have not reduced leagues and have added more activities. Two new stick leagues have been scheduled on Monday afternoons and a triples leagues will be held on Wednesday evenings.
“All other leagues are a go,” said Shaw. “We feel with our protocols in place we are able to offer an experience that will be enjoyable and follow the guidelines we all are required to follow these days. Our bonspiels and social events are impacted as we can’t gather as many people together especially for the banquet and dinner portion of our bonspiels. Most of our bonspiels are in the January-March timeframe, so we hope we will be able to hold a modified-style event even if provincial guidelines remain unchanged. These times require us to think creatively and the board and staff are already discussing how we can offer competitive and fun events under these circumstances.”
Shantz said for now they’re keeping registration open to past members only for safety reasons.
The Parksville club will hold a Learn to Curl and Refresher event on Sept. 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Spots are limited so those interested in taking part need to register first. They can call the club at 250-248-3764.
“We can’t have more than 20 people show up,” said Shantz. “We’re looking at maximum of 20 people so people can keep their distance.”