Tom Buchy and his Kimberley rink may have claimed their fourth B.C. Provincial Mixed Curling championship Sunday, but the other big winner in the four-day championship was the Parksville Curling Club.
“This is a real promotion for Parksville to other curlers,” said Bruce Laurie, local chair of the tournament committee. “The elite curlers want to come and get involved. We’ve made a mark on curling in B.C.”
The tournament was the seventh B.C. championship event hosted by the Parksville Curling Club since 2003. The draw is its status as an “arena” club, a former hockey rink converted to curling use while leaving in place the larger ice-making plant and spectator bleachers.
“It’s so much fun with the stands out here in the rink,” said Aaron Watson of Richmond, whose rink placed second in Sunday’s mixed final. “The people are so close it’s like they’re right on top of you.”
Both Watson and Buchy have competed in Parksville previously, both on men’s teams. This was the first look at the arena by Buchy’s wife and third, Lori Buchy, and team lead Robyn Toffolo.
“It’s great ice, and it’s great to have the fans be out here with you when you’re on the ice,” Lori Buchy said after her team’s 6-3 win in Sunday’s 8-end final.
“I had to remind myself not to look up at them,” Toffolo joked. “The whole event has been great and the volunteers are awesome. It’s a total class act.”
Daryl Brown of title sponsor AMJ Campbell, centre, presents the B.C. Mixed Curling Championship tropy to Kimberley’s Team Buchy Sunday at Parksville Curling Club. From left are lead Robyn Toffolo, second Dave Toffolo, third Lori Buchy and skip Tom Buchy. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Team Bushy entered the final playoff round as the No. 1 seed, and waited throughout Saturday’s play while the challengers sorted out who would get a crack at them in the final game.
Watson earned the honour and outpointed the favourites, forcing Buchy to return through Sunday’s semifinal round and rally in the winner-take-all rematch.
“I think we just came out a little flat (Saturday),” said Lori Buchy. “We had a little more fire today.”
Buchy took control by posting two-point ends with his hammer, while limiting Team Watson to one-point pickups.
Through five ends, Buchy led 4-3 and possessed the hammer, allowing him to take a blank in the sixth end and play — successfully — for another two-stone pickup in the seventh. That left Watson needing a three-stone pickup just to force an extra end, and Buchy was able to run his opponent out of stones.
“There were just a few shots where they made a mistake that we needed to capitalize on and we didn’t,” Watson said. “And they capitalized on ours.”
Team Buchy was presented the AMJ Campbell trophy by Daryl Brown, regional manager for Vancouver Island for the title sponsor. The squad will advance to play in the Canadian Nationals in Swan River, Manitoba, in November.
The championship drew just eight teams, the top qualifiers in each zone in B.C. As such, it does not provide the substantial economic boost to the community of, say, a 32-team bonspiel, said Laurie.
“We won’t make any money on this. For us, the benefit of this is more intangible,” he said. “As players, to see what these players are doing on the ice, with our rocks, on our ice, it’s very inspiring and encourage us to keep going.”
Parksville Curling Club has already assured it will keep going with yet another provincial championship tournament next year.
PCC will host the 2018 B.C. Men’s Championship, which will determine the province’s representative to the annual Briar Canadian finals.
The Briar, like its sister Canadian championship for women, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, is played in an arena much like Parksville’s. Which makes the local club a premium draw for the players.
“The whole idea for us is to mimic what you see happening on TV,” Parksville ice-maker Tim Kottsieper said. “The bottom line is, the curlers are pretty happy with it, so I’m happy.”