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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Local rinks having an impressive season


Monday night , I attended the send-off party for our newest Northern Ontario senior men's champions, who curl out of the Sudbury Curling Club.
Team Levesque
I could not help but notice the number of present and past provincial champions, numbering about 20, and two past national champions, Chris Johnson and Raylene
D'Agostino, who were present to celebrate with these men.

One of our most prominent curling champions, and a Sudbury Sport Hall of Fame member, Chucker Ross was also on hand. He has won the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club men's championship at least 13 times and has long been one of my mentors in this sport.

His wife, Sheila Ross, has done him one better by winning the 1995 Canadian Senior women's Championship, but, like Sheila, he has been an inspiration to many of the curlers who were present. He is well known for his support of Sudbury's junior curlers, together with his partners at Sostarich, Ross, Wright, Cecutti LLP, a prominent accounting firm.

While there, I met Rick Prudhomme and Denis Duclos, members of the Sudbury CC wheelchair curling team. I learned that the team only recently formed. After playing basketball for many years, they learned about the opportunity to curl at the Sudbury Club. I told them I had been trying to form a wheelchair team since the club became wheelchair-accessible back in the days of VHS tapes.
They recently competed at the Ontario Winter Games, where they finished fourth with a 3-2 record, and were getting ready to go to the Canadian National Championship at Thunder Bay on March 18-25.
Earlier, they had competed in a Spiel at Ottawa where they played against the Norwegian national team and other top teams for some valuable experience.
Dave Kawahara, a longtime advocate of wheelchair curling through the NOCA, has been working the last five years to set up the championship.
I also learned the Tanner Horgan rink, from the Idylwylde, had finished third at the Ontario Winter Games last weekend. Tanner and his brother, Jacob, were joined by Owen Sheppard from Manitoulin and Connor Lawes from North Bay.

I then checked the OWG website to see how the Krysta Burns Idylwylde team fared.
Team Prud'homme
In 2011, her team had won the NOCA Bantam Championship. This year, they finished third in Northern Ontario, but qualified for the 2012 Games, where they won the gold medal, i.e. the Ontario Bantam Championship. The team consists of skip Krysta Burns, vice Monica Graham, second Sara Guy lead Michela Nero and coach Rodney Guy.
Krysta is the younger sister of Kaitlynd Burns, a two-time junior champion.
All of these girls started their curling careers in the Little Rock program at the Idylwylde and now form that club's second Ontario championship team this year, with Tracy Horgan, another Little Rock graduate. All of these youngsters have about two more years of bantam-aged curling, which bodes well for the future of competitive curling in Sudbury.

Last weekend also saw the Region five Dominion Curling Club Championship playdowns held at the Idylwylde.

The winners were the Sudbury CC team of skip Tom "The Icemaker" Leonard, vice Scott Thom, second Mike Tessier and lead Ray Joanisse.

They will now curl in the NOCA championship at the Horne Granite Club in New Liskeard on March 29-April 1.

They will be joined by the Copper Cliff women's champs, with skip Meri Bolander, vice Monique Schler, second Deb Beitschat and lead Deb Viau.

In order to qualify for these championships, the club must belong to the NOCA, meaning members each paid the $15 NOCA fee, so that in Sudbury we are missing the Onaping Falls CC and Falconbridge CC champions.

Those folks are missing the chance to play for a provincial and national championship in a competition, which features only club level curlers.

The event is sponsored by The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, which is also the official insurer for the CCA and the OCA, and sponsors curling competitions and camps at the provincial and/or national level for high school, university, men's, seniors and wheelchair curlers.
As well, The Dominion sponsors many charity spiels, such as the Hard Times Charity Funspiel held recently at the Idylwylde to raise money for a much needed MRI for Health Sciences North.
"It's a branding exercise for us and we wanted to be branded with a sport that Canadians love and that shares the same values that we have as a company," George Cooke, president of The Dominion, said recently.

Well said, but do not retire any time soon George.

Alan Arkilander's Between the Sheets curling column appears every Wednesday in The Sudbury Star during the curling season.

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