Deane Horning will get another shot at the Brier, if he can successfully guide his team through a gauntlet of world-class rinks at the B.C. Men’s Curling championship in Parksville this week.
Horning of Castlegar, who skips the team comprised of Trail’s Don Freschi as third, Rob Nobert, second, lead Brad Wood of Penticton, and Trail’s Kevin Nesbitt as fifth, is satisfied with the rink’s progress this winter and confident in his team’s chances after missing out on a berth to the B.C.s last season.
“We’ve had some really good practices over the last month, everybody’s really come together well,” said Horning. “We’re very confident, that we’ll have a good crack at it.”
Horning, a three-time provincial champion, qualified after winning the Kootenay playdowns over Tom Buchy’s rink from Kimberley in Trail last month. Buchy also qualified.
Freschi and Nobert were part of Horning’s team that won the B.C.’s in 2005, along with Nelson’s Fred Thomson and Trail native Grant Fines, so experience should serve them well.
“I think we’re all a little more experienced and a little bit smarter on how we do things,” he said. “I think try easier, let it come to you, focus better, and don’t overthink it, or push as hard. We’re playing really well, and if we just take care of our business, things will take care of themselves.”
The Kootenay representative is one of 16 teams competing at the provincials that includes the likes of Jim Cotter’s Vernon rink that is looking for its third consecutive B.C. title. Brent Pierce from Royal City in Richmond, who lost in the final to Cotter last year, has four provincial championships as third for the Greg McAuley rink, to go with a Brier win, and the 2000 world championship under his belt, and Victoria skip Dean Joanisse is winner of two provincial championships, and a Canadian junior curling championship.
While Horning is far from intimidated by the field of world-class curlers, he realizes that winning a provincial championship is a major undertaking and accomplishment.
“It’s insanely tough, but I tell you this, it’s a lot tougher to win your first one,” said Horning. “It’s a very even playing field, some good teams. Cotter and Pierce have had really good years the last three or four years. You need to play exceptionally well, you need to get some breaks at the right time, but you also need to make key shots.”
Horning says sweeping will be vital to his team’s success, and with a powerful front end of Nobert, Wood, and Nesbitt on the brooms, the veteran skip believes their strength will make the difference.
“Throwers make good shots, and sweepers make great shots,” he said. “We have to be on every game. There’s no freebies, there’s no easy ones, we just need to step up.”
The Horning team starts its run at the provincial title Wednesday with a 9 a.m. draw against the Andrew Bilesky rink from Royal City.
The format is a triple knock out with a four-team page playoff and the final going Sunday at 5 p.m..
The other Kootenay representative, the Buchy rink is made up of Dave Stephenson, third, Dave Tuffolo, second, and lead Darren Will. They play the Jason Montgomery foursome from Victoria Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Follow the Men’s championship at www.playdowns.com.
Notes: Once Freschi finishes the Men’s championship, the Trail native returns home to compete in the Senior Men’s championship in Trail with Creston’s Tom Shypitka rink, Feb. 11-17.