Ladies' curling bonspiel victory bittersweet
Emotions were running high on Sunday at the Merritt Curling Centre as the A final of this year’s ladies curling bonspiel came to a close. Even a few tears were shed.
It wasn’t so much the fact that the Newton rink from Merritt — comprised of skip Susan Newton, third Lorna Latremouille, second Darlene Gellrich and lead Kathleen Bloom — had come back in dramatic fashion from four points down to take the championship title 7-4.
The intense feelings on the part of the Newton quartet were all about who couldn’t be there to help last year’s champions celebrate their repeat victory. Gone from the group was the team’s acknowledged spiritual and sporting leader, Marg Reynoldson, who passed away suddenly and tragically last March at the age of just 59.
“It was a very difficult weekend for all of us,” an understandably subdued Newton stated shortly after her team came off the ice on Sunday, all wearing special scarves in Reynoldson’s honour.
Throughout the three days of competition, the quartet had also kept with them at all times a small stuffed pony called Springs — named after Reynoldson’s horse — acknowledging their teammate’s lifelong passion for riding.
Newton intimated that Reynoldson would have been very proud of the way “her girls” hung in there during this year’s championship game against the Dee Arduini rink, also from Merritt.
“Marg would always say to us, ‘Never give up. The game’s not over till it’s over.’”
The Newton rink fell behind early in its final match, giving up points in each of the first three ends before mounting a sustained comeback. Single points in the fourth and fifth ends, followed by a steal of three in the sixth and one in the seventh put the reigning champions ahead 6-4 going into the final round.
In the eighth end, the two teams once again loaded up the house with potential scoring stones — meaning almost anything could happen right up until the final rock was thrown.
The Newton rink was counting two as skip Lois Ward of the Arduini rink prepared to deliver her last rock. Ward managed to clear away one of the opposition stones, but the other remained closest to the button, assuring the Newton rink of the win, and bringing to a close a very challenging, emotional weekend.
“[The win] was very special,” Newton said. “It meant a lot to all of us. We miss Marg a lot. The whole community does.”
In the B final, it was an all-Merritt affair as well. The Monica Tenisch rink roared out of the gate (or perhaps more appropriately the hack), en route to a decisive 8-0 win over the Dana Egan foursome.
The C final pitted Merritt’s Tami Desimone foursome against the only out-of-town rink at this year’s competition — the Hindle quartet from Clearwater. The locals proved to be most accommodating hosts, bowing to their guests 5-2.
Like the Black’s Pharmacy men’s bonspiel one week earlier, this year’s ladies event — which was sponsored by Interior Savings Credit Union and M&M Meat Shops — had a significant drop in participants. Only 11 teams took part in the women’s competition, compared to 20 or more in years gone by.
“All clubs are experiencing the same thing,” MCC representative Diana Twan said. “We’re fortunate that, because of having major sponsorships, we can still afford to put our events on and break even.”
Twan went on to add that the declining numbers are, in part, the result of “seniors getting more senior, and not enough young people taking up the sport.
“We have a good junior program on Mondays, but we’re lacking teens,” Twan said.
The Merritt Curling Centre membership is working hard to make sure that this year’s mixed curling bonspiel, scheduled for Feb. 15-17, goes ahead. The 2012 event was cancelled.
Any teams or individuals interested in taking part in this low-key, fun event for adults of all ages are encouraged to contact any MCC member.