Local rinks are among the favourites as the Trail Curling Club hosts the Mens’ West Kootenay playdowns on the weekend.
The long road to the Tim Horton’s Brier in Edmonton starts in Trail Friday with eight teams from the Kootenays vying for the top two spots in order to move on to the provincials in Parksville in February – and eventually the Brier at Rexall Place on Mar. 2.
Leading the local charge is Castlegar skip Deane Horning’s rink with third Don Freschi of Trail, second Rob Nobert and lead Brad Wood from Nelson, and fifth Kevin Nesbitt of Trail.
“I would think Horning would be at the top of the list, and (Tom) Shypitka and (Myron) Nichol would probably be the next battlers,” said Trail Men’s Club curling rep Richard Faunt.
Horning has made three visits to the Brier, twice with the Pat Ryan rink in 2002 and ‘03 and once as skip in ‘05 with Freschi and Nobert. Cranbrook’s Gerry Kent (‘91) is the only other Kootenay skip to advance to the Brier in the last 22 years.
In addition to Horning’s fivesome, the Kootenay Savings Super League will be represented by the Nichol rink from Castlegar with third Garry Beaudry, second Stew Higgins and lead Rob Babiarz, while Trail’s colours will be worn by skip Brian LeMoel and his rink consisting of third Joe Ferguson, second Markus Partridge, lead Jack Beard, and fifth Rob Ferguson.
The triple knockout can be a long protracted battle or a quick, four-straight wins to the title.
Two teams qualify for the provincials, while those that come up short will get another chance to qualify at the Open in Kelowna next month.
Rounding out the eight rinks are the Tom Buchy foursome from Kimberley, whose mixed rink just returned from the nationals, the Doug Hannah and Shypitka rinks from Creston, and the Salviulo and Pihowich rinks from Nelson.
“It will be very good curling,” says Faunt, who adds that admission to the event at the Trail Curling Club is free and open to the public.
Buchy and Shypitka qualified for the provincials at the Creston Curling Arena last year.
The opening draw goes at 2 p.m. on Friday with Horning playing LeMoel, Hannah versus Nichol, Buchy playing Salviulo, and Pihowich playing Shypitka. Draw 2 goes at 7 p.m.
The two top teams at the Kootenay playdowns will join last year’s winner and 13 other men’s teams from various regions of B.C. at the event in Parksville from Feb. 5 to 10.