Submitted photo                                Stick curling is rapidly becoming a popular sport in Parksville.

Submitted photo Stick curling is rapidly becoming a popular sport in Parksville.

Sticks and stones get seniors rocking

Parksville Curling Club to host 20-team Senior Stick Bonspiel

There’s a seniors group in Parksville Qualicum Beach who just love to play with sticks and stones on ice.

It’s actually a variation of curling. Instead of delivering the polished stones via the traditional way, players use a stick from either a standing or sitting (wheelchair) position.

Stick curling is catching on big time in Parksville Qualicum Beach, said Chris Price, who is the captain of the Parksville Stick Curling Club. It was designed to allow curlers, who are unable to release the stones out of the hack using the standard slide position due to physical limitations and issues such as knee, hip or back problems. to continue to enjoy the popular winter sport. That also includes people in wheelchairs, said Price, who had curled for many years in Ontario but was hampered by hip issues.

“I really pride myself in the game and I still wanted to curl,” said Price. “This has given me that opportunity to do so.”

It’s a two-person team and each player delivers six stones per end; after each end they alternate from delivering to receiving the stones. There’s only six ends per game.

There’s no sweeping or brushing between the hog lines. A stone is in play when it reaches the hog line at the delivering end butx if it fails to do so, it may be returned to the player and redelivered. The first three stones delivered in an end may not be removed from play until the fourth rock is thrown. If that happens, the delivered stone is removed and all other stones are placed back to their original positions. The rule extends the free guard zone from the hog line to the back line. All stones must be released before reaching the hog line.

Price said stick curling is played regularly at the Parksville Curling Club. They play at 11:15 a.m. every Tuesday and on Fridays they have three draws starting at 8:45 a.m., 9:50 a.m. and 11 a.m. It is not restricted to senior players only.

“It’s open to all ages, including Special Olympic players,” said Price.

The Parksville Stick Curling league has been going on for five years now but this season, they’ve experience a dramatic increase in the number of people wanting to play.

“Last year we were averaging eight teams per draw and this year we have a full 10 teams per draw and a waiting list,” said Price, who pointed out that they now have 40 teams in total, playing in four flights. “It is growing in popularity.”

For those who are curious about what stick curling is like, there’s an opportunity for them to watch the game this coming weekend. The Parksville Curling Club is hosting its Boston Pizza Open Stick Bonspiel on Dec. 8-9.

Price said there will be 20 teams coming from as far away as Armstrong, but with the bulk of the participants coming from Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo. There will be curling the whole day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Price said last year they did not hold a stick bonspiel due to low registration but this year, within two weeks, they were able to fill up the bonspiel with the 20 teams they needed and had to turn teams away.

“Next year we might hold the bonspiel for three days instead of two days,”said Price.

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