To piping, pennants and pageantry, CurlBC chair Paul Addision announced the 2018 belairdirect B.C. Men’s Curling Championships open during opening ceremonies before more than 100 spectators at Parksville Curling Club Wednesday evening, Jan. 31, 2018.
Twelve curling teams from across the province kicked off play in Parksville Wednesday, seeking a chance to advance to the Brier in Saskatchewan next month.
The opening day of play saw the top three seeds advance with wins, including skip Jim Cotter’s returning champions from Vernon Curling Club. Second-seeded Dean Joanisse of the Golden Ears Curling Club and third-seeded Sean Geall of Kelowna Curling Club also opened with victories in Wednesday evening’s second draw.
Play resumed at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, with draws to follow at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The championship continues through Sunday, Feb. 4.
Wednesday’s opening ceremonies included appearances by Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, Parksville Coun. Kim Burden and general manager Wayne Malvin of Berwick Retirement Properties, the presenting sponsor. Each spoke a few words while welcoming the visiting teams and wishing them luck, and going on to thank the nearly 200 Parksville Curling Club volunteers who are helping host the 2018 championships.
With RCMP representatives standing by in dress uniform, the teams were piped onto the ice by Mount Arrowsmith Pipe Band pipe major Josh Dieleman, behind placards held by members of the Ballenas and Kwalikum secondary school curling teams and the Special Olympics Oceanside curling team.
After singer Hugh Sinnot led the singing of O Canada, veteran Parksville Curling Club player Jack Dixon threw the ceremonial first stone, aided by sweepers Paul ‘Stoney’ Stone, Devin O’Rourke and Cody Butterworth.
CurlBC’s Addison presented a plaque of recognition to club members Penny Shantz, of the tournament organizing committee, and Ron Boag, club president.
Vernon skip Jim Cotter is joined this year by third Catlin Schneider, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky.
Cotter is without regular skip John Morris of Calgary, who will be representing Canada in the mixed doubles curling at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea with Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg.
Cotter said during Wednesday morning’s practice session that he hopes not having Morris it won’t affect how the team plays this weekend.
“We know we’ve got to go out and make a ton of shots and play extremely well,” said Cotter, who threw final stones for the Morris rink.
Despite winning the provincials the last four years, Cotter said, there is no pressure going in. Cotter also said he wasn’t nervous about any specific teams going in.
“I don’t think you really focus in on anybody. You can’t control what other people do; you can only control what you do,” Cotter said. “We play a lot of these guys all the time and they’re all great players and good teams… With something like this, you’ve got to play your best.”
Brian Onushko, who is in charge of media for the Parksville club, said this weekend is good opportunity for people to watch curling and find out more about the sport before the Olympics begin South Korea Feb. 9.
“There will be lots of coverage on curling (at the Olympics), and this is a chance, if you’ve never watched it live or you’ve never seen the game, to come down here and do that.”
Four matches at the provincial championships in Parksville will be televised by Shaw TV on the local channel and for streaming. The televised games are: Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Tickets are $5 at the door for each draw, or spectators may purchase a full event pass for $45, available at the curling club concession and at Save-On-Foods in Parksville. Passes may be purchased or ordered online, through links at www.parksvillecurling.com.
—with files from Vernon Morningstar