It might be a far cry from some of the bonspiels of the past, but tournament director Trevor Sandberg and Smithers Curling Club president Klaus Kraft were pleased with the turnout for this year’s version of the Steelhead Bonspiel.
With 18 men’s and six women’s rinks in attendance, there were four more than last year’s version. The Smithers Curling Centre was an active spot all weekend with curlers and family members in attendance.
Sandberg was lavish in his thanks for the teams which came from many northwest B.C. communities to participate in the bonspiel saying that without their attendance, the club wouldn’t be as successful as it has been.
The winning rinks were on the go until well into Sunday afternoon by the time final rocks were thrown.
Winning the “A” event was the Tony deViveiros rink which included skip Chad Sallenback, along with Shane Dejong and Dave Reneiro.
The “B” event was taken by the Greg Johnstone rink while the “C” version was taken by the Ron Vanderstan team.
While it may not have some of the high-tech accoutrements that appear at some of the larger centres, the Smithers location is certainly a comfortable, friendly spot to watch some experienced curlers throw their rocks down the sheets of ice.
Curling has changed over the years and is probably easier to access and play than it might have been in the past. The old corn stalk brooms have been replaced by sweepers which are easier to use, especially for those new to the sport. That said, the precision with which the stones are thrown has not gotten any easier.
In the past, Kraft said that as many as 64 teams have attended the bonspiel which necessitated games being played around the clock.
“In my books, it’s always been a great social activity. It gets you out for a little bit of activity with your friends,” he said.
While the sport’s numbers have been on the decline, “In this town we’re holding our own. Curling has been on a bit of a downslide all over the place but we’re working hard to make it go. In the club, we have 12 men’s teams, and six teams in our Wednesday night social league. We also have a seniors drop in on Friday afternoons,” he said.
Kraft hoped that the club could grow from the successful weekend. One recent adaptation to the sport that may attract more older participants is the development of Sturling, which uses a pusher to move the rocks.
“It takes a little getting used to from the traditional game but it’s lots of fun. With only two people per team, It only takes an hour to play the game and it’s definitely easier to play,” he explained.
While curling is a traditional sport in the Senior Games, Sturling has only recently been added.