Last week – Feb. 5-9 Westman curlers played in the Curl Manitoba 2020 Viterra Championship. When it comes to curling where the country visits the city, local curling clubs are at a distinct disadvantage competing on arena ice.
However, Virden curler Cory Barkley with Team Freeman, says they got what they hoped for – a great time curling at a high level of play.
“For club curlers, having the opportunity to play in the provincial championship in an arena setting, it is a one of a kind experience,” says Barkley. “The 32-team format that is used allows for non-elite teams to still compete… and play elite level teams on arena ice.”
From the Virden Curling Club, Team Freeman with Dwayne Barkley, Cory Barkley, Brooks Freeman, skip Graham Freeman and spare Kevin Barkley came home with respectable scores. They conceded their first draw to Jordan Smith, 11-7.
Freeman handily won the next game against Winnipeg rink Paul Scinocca 7-3, only to be knocked out in the eighth draw by Team Dennis Bohn with a 9-7 score.
First time players at Viterra, Team Jay Kinnaird, with Tyler Strachan (Virden), Chris Mannle (Moosomin), Cory Zdan (Winnipeg) and spare Kris Kinnaird were stopped in their tracks with two straight losses.
Virden’s Darcy Hayward curled with team Dean North who also lost two-straight.
Kola’s Branden Jorgensen with team Kelly Marnoch lost their first game to Team Tanner Horgan but went on to defeat Gladstone’s Jeff Stewart 7-5. Team Steve Irwin defeated Marnoch 5-3.
The Brandon rink of Steve Irwin with Hamiota curler Travis Brookes throwing second had a good run, winning five of their eight games, playing into Saturday.
Barkley said team Irwin has competed well over the years, being among the final four at a couple of provincials.
“They have been together a long time and have had success on arena ice. They are probably the strongest rural team in the province and have been for many years.”
When the Irwin team came up against Jason Gunnlaugson they lost 8-5. Irwin faced-off against William Lyburn who narrowly defeated Irwin 8-7.
No shame to lose to Gunnlaugson, who went on to defeat Mike McEwen in two games and win the Viterra event.
Barkley said, “Gunnlaugson outplayed the McEwen rink on what appeared to be some suspect ice in the final. Jason has been around for a long time, and has an elite level team. It was their year, as they've been knocking on the door for several. They'll be good representatives for the province.”
Jason Gunnlaugson will curl in national competition at the Tim Hortons Brier, Feb. 29 to March 8 in Kingston, Ont.