BC Senior Games – Nanaimo rink eight-ends way into final

Perfect end leads way to championship round.

Gary and Diane Smith along with Frank and Eleanor Voysey traveled from Nanaimo to compete in the B.C. Seniors Games.

Gary and Diane Smith along with Frank and Eleanor Voysey traveled from Nanaimo to compete in the B.C. Seniors Games.

A curling team from Nanaimo got an early taste of victory when they slid an eight ender and secured their place in Sunday’s championship game at the B.C. Seniors Games.

Representing the mixed 55+ category, Gary and Diane Smith along with Frank and Eleanor Voysey won their fifth game (12-1) Friday with the rare occurrence, where all eight stones finished the targeted area. They then went on to claim the gold medal in Saturday’s final, defeating the Victoria rink

“If you get lucky and the opposition makes a few misses and you happen to make all your shots and all your rocks are counting in the house and they don’t have any that are closer to the button, you get the eight points,” explained Diane.

The game landed in their favour when their opponent knocked their seventh rock in and opened up the ice to Gary, who secured his first eight-ender in his 40 years of curling.

“It was a nervous reaction because I’ve curled since high school and I’ve never had one of these before,” he said.  “It was the first opportunity and that’s nerve-racking as any shot you’re going to throw, even though all we had to do to hit the house.”

This marks the first time the experienced players have competed at the Games, an event that has not only been about winning but meeting others who share their passion for sport.

“Everybody here is retired, they’re laid back and ready to go,” laughed Frank.

“There are a lot of people out there, if they have never played, who think curling is just like watching paint dry,” he added. “You have to know what’s going on and know how much skill it takes to put the rock in the middle, all you can do is give it a try.”

The real Canadian sport is played by two teams made up of four players, who take turns sliding heavy polished granite stones across the ice toward the “house,” a circular target.

A curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides, and the path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone.

“The nice thing about curling is that anybody can play it, young and old, and now they’re introducing stick curling so if you can’t get on the hack, you can still curl,” said Diane. “It keeps people playing sport, keeping them active and healthy.”

Eleanor remembers first being introduced to the Games when they were held in Nanaimo in 2007. The team was then waiting for Diane to turn 55 years old to participate.

“It’s a great sport, I love it,” she said. “You get to meet a lot of people and everybody in Trail has been so friendly and just welcoming.”