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We Were a Stepping Stone!

Thursday Jan 15 2015

Saturday was our three game day in the Manitoba Open Bonspiel. It is a busy enough schedule that I didn't find time to add bonspiel thoughts here. And by the end of the day, Ernie Rehberg and his Granite team had bounced us out of the 'spiel. This morning, I checked the draws and find that all six of the teams we played are still in the bonspiel on Sunday morning so good luck to them as they pursue a bonspiel trophy...and a special note of good luck to Brian Guenther and his Steinbach team. We played them on draw three at Deer Lodge for our second victory (there were only two!) of the spiel - ad that bounced them into my own thecurler.com event. It would be fun  to present them the trophy at West Kildonan on Monday evening.

For the record here are the teams for whom we served as bonspiel stepping stone this year.

Cliff Murphy, Deer Lodge – Metric Marketing
Daniel Birchard, Pembina – Nott Autocorp
Brian Guenther, Steinbach – the curler.com
Vic Bellay, Pembina – Manitoba Pork
Derek Samagalski, West St Paul – Manitoba Hydro
Ernie Rehberg, Granite – Manitoba Pork

Thanks to Brian Kushner, Norm Magnusson, Gavin Betker, and Mike Coutts. Despite the 2-4 record, it was a fun bonspiel.

MORE Reason to be Encouraged - Since I was so encouraged by the results of my informal survey last night at Fort Rouge, I did it again at St Vital on the noon draw today. Only four games on that draw - 8 teams, 32 players. My count, admittedly guess work from across 3 or 4 sheets of ice, placed the 35 years of age and under curlres on the ice at exactly  16 - 50% of the players that draw were 'young'. As I said last night (see article below) that encourages me tremendously!

A Reason to be Encouraged - My skip would tell you, if you asked, that the main reason I should be playing lead on his team is because I'll often spend as much time talking with the guys on the next sheet or looking around at the action on other sheets as I will focussed on what is going on in our own game. That's obviously because I am a reporter (??) - observer who wants to know what's going on. Although he'd probably say its more likely an inability to concentrate on one thing for two hours.

In any case, last night at Fort Rouge I was doing my usual looking around and I was encouraged by what I saw.

People have bemoaning the advancing age of the bonspiel participants, projecting a time not so far in the future when the trend spells further decline in numbers and perhaps the bonspiel's demise.

What I saw last night was very encouraging. Granted it was just a random sample of 12 teams playing in one draw. However by my count there were 21 of 48 players who were (by my guess) in the age range of 35 or under. Since I like simple numbers, I am calling that 40% of the people out there. As little tougher to speculate on the age of the rest and yes, there were a good number of players who are best described as 'having lots of experience'.

I'd guess, however, that the other 60% were pretty much equally split - 30% in the 35-55 age group and 30% in the 'over-55 group. And that's encouraging fo me.

The 40% under 35 group at Fort Rouge last night included young men and women not many years out of juniors. It suggests to me the bonspiel's new format has encouraged the participation of young women and young teams who used to see the bonspiel as an 'old-guys' event. It is a resaon to be encouraged!!

Manitoba Open Bonspiel Starts Tonight - The 127th edition of the Manitoba Curling Association’s annual bonspiel, now called the Manitoba Open, gets underway. A full complement of 256 teams in the primary event plus another 64 in the HalfSpiel mean that 320 teams will be playing the bonspiel and enjoying a long weekend of curling. If you figure most are five-person teams these days – that’s  1,500 or so curlers.

The highest percentage, of course are from Winnipeg and nearby clubs – but the entry list shows teams from Dauphin, Gilbert Plains, and Thompson. It shows teams from Lethbridge-AB, Sarnia-ON (including team members from Richmond Hills, Michigan), San Francisco/Lake Tahoe, Califormia, and Brazil (by way of Quebec).

The Brazilian National Men’s Curling Team is holding its training/selection camp in Winnipeg this weekend. All six players on the roster willcompete – five will be chosen to represent Brazil at a USA World Championship challenge series in Blane, Minnesota later this month.

The entry list shows many teams who already have Safeway berths scattered among many who aspire to, and who with a break here and there could achieve, that status.

Among the teams in the spiel who it can be speculated are actively chasing a Safeway berth, the curler.com has identified a group of ten of whom we’re guessing three will earn a Safeway berth. The fourth?? Who knows – it only takes a break or two to create a winning streak and it only takes a winning streak to earn a Safeway berth. Good luck to every team who entered the spiel eligible to win a berth. If even a faint hope, we know it is there.

For the record, Team Magnusson is ineligible so if we get in the way of your dream, we apologize.  Here’s that list of ten to watch.

Justin Richter-Riverton (opens at 6pm against Richard Harrison-Ft Garry at Elmwood)
Jared Kolomaya-Stonewall (opens at 6pm against Josh Dielschneider-Heather at Elmwood)
Steve Irwin-Brandon (opens at 6pm against Jeff Tarko-Ft Rouge at St Vital)
Ray Baker-Dauphin (opens at 6pm against Frank Walter-Elmwood at Thistle)
Kevin Brown-Charleswood (opens at 6pm against Brian Norman-AMCC at Charleswood)
Justin Stanus-Granite (opens at 6pm against Don Henry-Thistle at AMCC)
Rob Atkins-East St Paul (opens at 9pm against Jordan McLean-Ft Rouge at Ft Garry)
Butch Mouck-Gilbert Plains (opens at 9pm against Pepeto Bismoli-West St Paul at West Kildonan)
Wayne Ewasko-Granite (opens at 9pm against Bob Burkett-Heather at AMCC)
Ryan Thomson-Morden (opens at 9pm against  Jordan Smith at AMCC)

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