The best senior curlers in the province are headed to the Alberni Valley for the Tim Hortons Seniors Curling Championships from Feb. 16-21.
The top eight men’s and top eight women’s seniors (50 and over) teams will compete for spots in the Canadian senior championships in Edmonton in March.
“We’ve got a few high-end curlers coming here,” said Michelle Twanow, who is organizing the event for the Alberni Valley Curling Club.
Two men’s and two women’s teams are from Vancouver Island, including Lynn Noble from Qualicum Beach and Heather Lindsay from Nanaimo, Wes Craig from Victoria Curling Club and Dean Thulin from Campbell River.
Other women’s rinks are Kathy Smiley, Lynda Roemer and Marilou Richter from the Lower Mainland, Lori Freeman from the Kootenays, Lil Blashko and Sandra Jenkins from the Okanagan.
Other men’s rinks are Larry Macdonald, Sandy Greig and Paul Dunkin from the Lower Mainland, Myron Nichol from the Kootenays, David Mellof and Garry Gelowitz from the Okanagan.
(While there are no Alberni Valley teams that made it through playdowns, local curler Lorraine Jeffries is the fifth player for the Noble team.)
All of the teams have seen provincial action in the past, some at the senior level and some at the men’s and women’s levels. Some are even Olympic medal winners, like Sandra Jenkins, a bronze medal winner in 2006, Twanow said.
“Several players have gone to Olympic trials, which is quite a feat. Not just anybody can go there.
‘There’s numerous provincial winners, Canadian winners. When they were playing in ladies’ or men’s before seniors, there are some previous world champions.”
Port Alberni has hosted provincial championships before, but in this case Curl BC came to them, Twanow said.
“They’re finding it hard to get clubs for the seniors events. They have no problem with the ladies’ and men’s events because they’re televised. They’re having trouble finding clubs to put (others) on because it’s quite a production.”
Hosting a provincial championship is not a money maker for the curling club, she added.
Monday, Feb. 16 is a practice day for teams; opening ceremonies on Tuesday are at 5:45 p.m., and will include bagpipes and RCMP members in their red serge. Games continue all week, with the semi-finals and finals wrapping up on Saturday, Feb. 21.
The public is welcome to come and watch any of the games. Admission will be by donation. A concession will be available and volunteers will be on hand to answer any questions.
Anyone wanting to follow the scores throughout the week can go online to playdowns.com and follow the links through the B.C. senior playdowns.