Young Korean team wins men’s bonspiel in Hope

The annual event had the lowest number of participants to date

Craig Traun skipped his team to a win in the C-event at last weekend’s men’s curling bonspiel. The A-event was won by a team of junior curlers from Seoul Korea

Craig Traun skipped his team to a win in the C-event at last weekend’s men’s curling bonspiel. The A-event was won by a team of junior curlers from Seoul Korea

Give these guys a few years and they might be up against Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea.

“Team Seoul” was a late entry into the 16-team men’s bonspiel at the Hope Curling Rink last weekend — but the age 17 and under Korean squad ended up in first place overall.

The junior team is currently training in Richmond, picking up tips that they can take home with them in a few weeks.

Their coach, known as “Jimmy,” said he had been in Canada as a player in 2006 to 2009.

“I know how Canadians are good at playing curling, so I want to develop my team’s skill and experience through this time. I am hoping my junior team could be an Olympic team in 2018 in PyeongChang.

“I saw this bonspiel in the Curl BC yearbook,” said Jimmy. “It was a long way, driving from Vancouver, so we were tired to get there before the first draw — but the generous and kind people made us feel free.”

Club iceman, Roman Petryk said the team had a tough challenge in the opening match, against Hope’s Al Trick rink of Evan Empey, Seamus Shields and Don Wiens.

“They had to go to an extra end before winning,” said Petryk, who placed fourth in the C-event.

Team Seoul’s lead, In-hok Kim said, “It was fun! We found that even the senior players were all strong.”

Second, Min-Woo Kim said, “It’s so precious a memory for me. It was my first bonspiel and I learned a lot.”

Jeong-Jae Lee, Team Seoul’s third said, “I want to experience many bonspiels like this. I saw the players’ delivery then I was disappointed because it’s so different form from us. We were playing nervous.”

“The thing is, I want to come back soon!” enthused the skip, Seok-heon Lee.

Unlike the Koreans, there were three teams — whom shall remain nameless — that had perfect records in the bad way, going out with three straight losses. That gave them more time to watch the season’s first NHL hockey games in the upstairs lounge… but even the Canucks bombed on Saturday night.

The three final events were run concurrently at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Hope’s Craig Traun rink edged out the Jon Masry “Swedish Touch” rink of Langley in the C-event final. Traun’s teammates were Stu Wise, Leighton Warner and Jordan Romano.

Al Trick’s rink bowed out to the Mike Waltens rink of Chilliwack in the B-event and it was Coquitlam’s Dave Parsons rink of Mike Mantil and Jim and Rich Odo, falling to the young Koreans in the A-final.

Teams were treated to a dinner on Saturday evening, included in their $220 entry fee, though registration was down considerably from past years.

“This was the lowest number of teams we’ve ever had,” said Petryk.

Club president Galen Toy said the bonspiel used to attract 28 or 32 teams, but it was down to 24 last year.

“I hear the women have decided to cancel their bonspiel, February 1 to 3. They had only 10 teams last year and they couldn’t even get that many this year,” said Toy. “It used to be a fun event, that attracted a lot of teams from out of town.

“The low attendance seems to be a trend in B.C. and perhaps across Canada,” added the president. “We’ve just signed up for the Lillooet spiel this coming weekend and it’s going to be a combined women’s and men’s event, as there were only eight teams for the men’s event. Curling clubs are having a tough go, lately.”

Still, Petryk is hopeful for the club’s mixed curling bonspiel, which runs from March 1 to 3.

“We have nine teams signed up so far,” said Petryk, “and there are some out of town teams that always come, that haven’t signed up yet. We’re hoping for 32 teams.”

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