History made at men’s bonspiel in Hope

Women's team entered to round out weekend curling tournament

Ken Campbell was among the curlers at the annual men’s bonspiel in Hope over the weekend. This year’s event featured 16 rinks

Ken Campbell was among the curlers at the annual men’s bonspiel in Hope over the weekend. This year’s event featured 16 rinks

At first, it was going to be a dual men’s and women’s bonspiel, side-by-side on the same weekend… then there were only four women’s teams that showed interest, so it went back to a 16-team men’s event.

That was the plan, anyway, said Hope Curling Club iceman, Roman Petryk. Then, one men’s team cancelled out on Monday night.

Faced with the nasty task of putting together a 15-team draw for last week’s bonspiel, Petryk chose to fill the blank spot with one of the teams that had signed up for the cancelled women’s event.

“We’ve been curling for years and it’s never happened before,” said Petryk of the female team’s entry.

The women’s infiltration continued, with Shelley Empey helping as a spare on Don Wiens’ team.

Unlike hockey, where size, strength and speed would give a men’s team the advantage over a similarly-skilled women’s team, those attributes are minimal factors in curling. If the women had the accuracy and skill, they could compete with the men — and that, they did.

Chilliwack-based skipper Kelly Jones and Hopians Debbie McKinney and Rosalee Floyd curl together in Chilliwack and they picked up The Hope Standard’s Pattie Desjardins for their lead. The female foursome then went undefeated right to the A-final on Sunday.

They faced Darren Jarvis’ Chilliwack rink in a match that went right down to the last rock, said Petryk.

“It went back and forth all game,” said the iceman. “The ladies’ skipper had to make a hit and stay on her last rock — but it rolled a little too far and the men had an extra rock in there for the win.”

The A-event winners were Jarvis, Terry Foord as third, Rob Hornsby as second and Sam Rooney as lead.

The B-event was also close.

“It was tied up, coming home and the North Vancouver team that won it had to hit the button and stay there, to beat the Chilliwack team,” said Petryk. “Ken Campbell’s rink beat up on the other team in the C final. Ken got to the C because the girls beat him in their second game.”

Ken Campbell’s teammates were Tom DeSorcy, Lou Kraszlany and Chris Kelley.

Hope used to be able to attract 28 or 32 teams to its men’s spiels — and the women’s event used to be a highlight of the year and has now fallen by the wayside.

“Our bonspiel numbers have been going down — but that’s happening everywhere,” said Petryk.

The trend could be reversed, though, perhaps through introducing the game to young people.

Yesterday (Feb. 5), Coquihalla Elementary hosted their second Curl BC Capital One Rocks & Rings dryland curling program, for grades one through four. Using a gym floor instead of ice, the program introduces the main parts of the game. Plastic rocks are used, with ball bearings to help them slide.

Petryk hopes to see some of those classes come over to the rink to try the game out on pebbled ice.

“We have C.E. Barry classes coming over for an hour and a half, teaching them how to slide, throw the rock and sweep,” said Petryk. “Ken Campbell and Wendy and Lou Kraszlany are helping out. For the last part of each session, we make up some teams and have a chance to play.”

Before the ice comes out in late March, there are three big events to get through. On Thursday, Feb. 13, the three-day BC Firefighters’ curling playoff kicks off at 8 a.m., then pauses for the opening ceremonies at 10:30. Finals will take place on Saturday afternoon. Petryk said 19 teams are registered, with the winner going to the Canadian Championships in Winnipeg.

Feb. 28 and March 1-2, the club hosts the Mixed Bonspiel.

“We’ve got 15 or 16 teams registered so far and we’re hoping for 32,” said Petryk.

On the March 14-16 weekend, the club hosts the BC Nisei bonspiel, which brings together descendants of the original Japanese immigrants and their families.