Vernon’s John Campbell (left) and Armstrong’s Tim Smith

Vernon’s John Campbell (left) and Armstrong’s Tim Smith

Duo captures national title

Winning the Canadian Sturling – or stick curling – championship made up for the sting of losing the provincial final on home ice for an Armstrong duo.

John Campbell and Tim Smith from the Armstrong Curling Club were crowned the 2011 Canadian Open Sturling champions in Maple Ridge, after they beat a rink from the host club 4-2 in the championship game.

“It definitely made up for the loss of the provincial final on home ice, big time,” said Campbell, 63, a retired Dairyland employee.

Campbell and Smith, 71, a retired contractor, won provincial stick curling titles in 2009 and 2010, and had been hoping for a three-peat in ‘11. However, the team of Tom Kratchmer and Carl Schwab from the Enderby Curling Club defeated Campbell and Smith in the provincial final.

Both rinks competed in the Canadian Open bonspiel in Maple Ridge.

Competing against 24 teams from across Canada, Campbell and Smith had to do things the hard way.

They won their first game, then lost their second which dropped them into the C event. They won three straight games to qualify for the playoffs, where they won their opening match 8-3.

In the semifinal, against a duo from Salmon Arm, Campbell and Smith trailed 5-3 with two ends to play.

“We picked up a deuce to tie the game, then stole one coming home for the win,” said Campbell.

The victory put them into the Canadian Sturling final against a squad from Maple Ridge. The Armstrong team led right from the start on their way to the 4-2 win.

“It was very exciting,” said Campbell of winning the national crown.

Sturling came about as a sport to keep people, mainly seniors, with various body ailments playing a sport they enjoyed.

“There are six ends, six rocks, one guy at each end, one guy skips while the other throws all the rocks,” said Campbell. “Sweeping is allowed from the hog line in on both ends. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of people are getting into it.”

Stick curlers stand and use a special implement that allows the rock to be pushed down the ice from a standing position.

There is a stick attachment that fits onto the back of a normal curling broom. Players can use the broom for sweeping, then turn it over to deliver the rocks.

According to Campbell, it was a wonky knee that kept Smith from enjoying regular curling, so he started stick curling, then introduced Campbell to the sport.

The two have been teammates for three years.

According to the website, www.sturling.net, there are 20 clubs in B.C. that offer stick curling, including Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby and Falkland.

A total of 24 teams competed at the provincial championships in Armstrong.