Top-notch juvenile curling action graced Cowichan Lake last weekend, with the The Cowichan Lake Sports Arena playing host to the 2011 Tim Hortons’ Juvenile Boys’ and Girls’ Provincial Championships.
The weekend’s tournament ended with Kamloops’ juvenile girls’ Brown rink and the Coquitlam boys’ Styba rink earning both gold, and spots in the upcoming Optimist National Championships, to take place in Toronto.
All teams were made up of players that were 16 years of age on December 31, meaning both 16 and 17-year-olds competed. There were eight teams in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions. With eight curling regions in the province, each team had previously placed first in their regional championships.
There were no local area teams competing in last weekend’s tournament.
The tournament began with a star-studded opening ceremonies at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, Thursday, March 3. Local area politicians, including MLA Bill Routley, wished curlers good times on the weekend of that faced them.
Cowichan Rocks Curling Club president Thor Repstock introduced players to the $7.6 million in upgrades the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena is currently completing.
“While there’s a bit left to be done, arena staff have done what the could to get this curling done,” he said.
The curling area had been completely finished well in advance of the tournament, with competitors and spectators benefiting from the curling lounge’s new washrooms, the recently paved ground under the ice of the curling rinks, as well as the new concession area.
The Cowichan Rocks Curling Club were co-sponsors of the event, with volunteers from the club spending much of the weekend helping Curl BC officials and Cowichan Lake Recreation employees officiate and organize the event.
Curling wrapped up on Sunday, with Nanaimo’s Rice rink bowing to Kamloops’ Brown rink for the Juvenile Girls’ gold placement, during a close final game.
“We had a really good game out there,” skip Corryn Brown said, after her rink had received their medals.
This wasn’t the first big win for the Brown rink. Last year, the managed to place first at the 2010 BC Winter Games in Terrace.
During the Juvenile Boys’ gold game, the Coquitlam Stybe rink beat the Juan de Fuca Wenzek rink.
“It was good,” skip Mitchell Styba said, of the tournament. “A tough couple games – close competition.”
This is the first year the Styba rink has been together as a whole. Lead Zach Umbach was new to the team, with Styba, Justin Medwid, and Dylan Heimburger having played together last year, as well.
It was a particularly special day for Umbach. Not only did his team place gold, qualifying for nationals in Toronto, but it was also his birthday. Upon hearing news of his birthday, the curling lounge filled with the singing of the birthday song.
Looking back on the event, Curl BC vice president said that the event was a great success.
“This facility has done an excellent job of hosting, and making sure everyone is fed,” he said. “I think they’re doing a fine job here.”
The ice conditions were nice and quick, he said, resulting in an atmosphere where curlers could truly shine.
Both of last weekend’s first-place teams will be provided hotel and airfare free of charge in order to attend nationals.