The event features 28 teams (14 men, 14 women) from across Canada chasing an elusive national title. Play began Nov. 20 and concludes this weekend (Nov. 25-26) with playoffs.
Representing B.C. at the bonspiel are two local teams, who punched their ticket to Kelowna by winning the BC Club Challenge in Richmond in April of this year.
The B.C. women’s team consists of Comox Valley and Campbell River curlers Kim Jonsson, Lonnie Schopp, Mickey Colburn and Yvette Green. In a previously published story in The Record, Colburn said, “We are looking forward to meeting other teams, exploring the area (if we have time) and to competing. It is very exciting to be representing B.C.”
The B.C. men’s team from the Comox Valley is Ron Schmidt, Norm Cote, Craig Bernes and Darren Richards. “We will wear our B.C. colours with great pride,” Schmidt said in a previous interview.
“We are so looking forward to playing in a week-long event against competitive teams from across the country. I’m sure we’ll make new friends and enjoy the festivities and sportsmanship. We hear from past participants what a great event it always is.”
The competition offers an elite national championship experience to Canada’s best club curling teams. All 14 of Curling Canada’s Member Associations (10 provinces, three territories and Northern Ontario) are represented in both genders.
Each team is allowed only one player who has played in a provincial/territorial Juniors’, Men’s (Brier), Women’s (Scotties) or Seniors’ championship in the current or previous four curling seasons, or participated in a full-field Grand Slam event in the current or previous four curling seasons.
As well, no player on the teams can have played in a Canadian Juniors, Men’s, Women’s or Seniors national championship in the current or previous four seasons.
There are some past participants in the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts competing in Kelowna, but many players will be savouring the thrill of representing their provinces or territories for the first time at a national event.
That won’t be the case for the Saskatchewan men’s team from Saskatoon; three-quarters of this team — skip Kory Kohuch, second Wes Lang and lead David Schmirler (third cousin to Sandra Schmirler) — won gold at the 2014 Travelers Curling Club Championship in Halifax. Vice-skip David Kraichy rounds out the 2016 edition of the team.
Other players, meanwhile, are better known for their pursuits away from curling. Prince Edward Island lead Doug MacGregor is an accomplished standardbred horse trainer and driver, having surpassed the $400,000 mark in career earnings.
Another unique aspect of the Travelers Curling Club Championship is that the teams competing in Kelowna also are participating in a fundraising challenge to benefit youth curling across Canada through the Curling Canada Foundation.
The team that raises the most money will earn a cash grant of $6,000 for improvements to its home club; additionally, there will be draws for $1,000 prizes for club improvements. You can find more information by CLICKING HERE.
At the 2015 Travelers Curling Club Championship in Ottawa, it was an Atlantic Canada sweep. Newfoundland/Labrador’s Andrew Symonds claimed gold in the men’s competition, while Lisa Jackson skipped Prince Edward Island to victory in the women’s gold-medal game.
Since the first Travelers Curling Club Championship in 2009 in Toronto, Alberta has won the men’s title three times, while Saskatchewan has claimed two titles and Ontario and Newfoundland/Labrador have one apiece.
On the women’s side, Ontario has won three times, followed by Manitoba with two and Alberta and Prince Edward Island with single victories.
The 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams will be split into two seven-team round-robin pools. After a single round-robin, the top three teams in each pool will make the playoffs. The first-place teams will be seeded directly into the semifinals, Friday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m. (all times Pacific). The second- and third-place teams will meet in crossover quarter-finals Friday at 2 p.m., with the winners moving into the semis.
The semifinal winners will play for gold, and the losers will play for bronze, Saturday, Nov. 26, at 10 a.m.
Selected games from the 2016 Travelers Curling Club Championships will be live-streamed at www.curling.ca/2016travelers/