Local curling stars shone brightly during last weekend’s Summer Bonspiel.
Although a number of local curlers joined different teams, only two rinks – Sutton and Elzinga – were made up entirely of local players.
These two teams faced each other, undefeated up to that point, for the final game, Sunday, August 28.
The Sutton rink beat out the Elzinga rink 9-3.
“This extends our run for two years in a row,” skip Dennis Sutton excitedly said, minutes after the win.
The Sutton rink formed to participate in last year’s Summer Bonspiel, made up of lead Belinda Waller, and second Mike Waller. The team rounded out with third Tricia Mayea; a former rival of Sutton’s.
The Elzinga rink was made up of skip John Elzinga, lead Maria Elzinga, second Thor Repstock, and third Diana Myrden. The Elzinga rink has played in every Summer Bonspiel since 2000, and placed first in last year’s “B” event.
Repstock had to use a stick to launch the rock this year, due to a problem with his hip.
This has been a good year for Sutton, who recently placed second in the Men’s Provincial Championships, playing with a team from Victoria.
Last weekend’s bonspiel had some other notable players as well, including Senior Women’s Provincial champion Lorraine Gagnon, and World Senior Women’s champion Roz Craig; both from Mill Bay.
“Our little event in Lake Cowichan draws some big curlers,” Cowichan Lake Recreation manger Linda Blatchford said.
“I think everyone had a good time and had fun,” Cowichan Rocks Curling Club president Thor Repstock said. The club hosted the bonspiel.
The weekend also had players out at the March Meadows Golf Course for a Friday round of golf. Saturday night had rock group The Culprits perform in the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena curling lounge.
Although successful, the bonspiel wasn’t without its hiccups.
The new ice system malfunctioned early on, resulting in the ice beginning to melt.
“They came right on it and got it fixed,” Repstock said, adding that by the second game everything had been repaired. “After that, the ice was good.”
Another issue was with players’ ability to camp at Centennial Park.
After a flip-flopping of decisions by the town’s elected officials, camping at Centennial Park for special events was disallowed, and then re-allowed.
Although re-allowed, a camping fee has been introduced.
“I’m pretty disappointed with how that was done,” Repstock said.
A full camping fee – the same as that at the fully-serviced Lakeview Park Campground – has been implemented at Centennial Park; an un-serviced parking lot where campers are allowed simply to park their campers.
Only two parties opted to camp at Centennial Park, each paying a total of $96 for the right to camp over the three nights. They’ve since said that they would not return for next year’s event.
“We used to have 32 teams. Now we’re down to 24,” Blatchford said, of this year’s turnout.
Although there are fewer teams, the costs remain the same, she said, in that there are still A, B, C, and D divisions. This has made things tighter this year, resulting in the annual Saturday steak dinner being replaced by roast beef.
Income at the bar was also hurt by camping fees, as more players had to drive to their accommodations as opposed to walking to their camp site.
During previous years, there were more players that camped near the arena, creating a nice community atmosphere. This has been to some degree lost, Repstock said.
“Curling is a social sport,” Blatchford said, adding that many people treat the annual tournament as a reunion of friends they see once a year.
Although dissatisfied with both the camping situation and the resulting turnout, Blatchford is hopeful that next year’s event will go smoothly.
“I already have six teams registered for next year. We’re hoping for 32,” she said.
In the meantime, the Cowichan Rocks Curling Club is getting ready for another season of curling, to begin in early October.
Mondays will see doubles curling, Tuesdays mixed, and Wednesdays open league.
“We’re trying to get a Friday drop-in and see what happens,” Repstock said.
Saturday, September 24, will see a mini bonspiel kick-start the season, with nine holes of golf and two four-end games of curling.
Registrations for anything curling-related can be made through Cowichan Lake Recreation, at 250-749-6742.