Dave Merklinger and Darren Heath lay down ads before the 2019-20 season starts. (Padraig Mac Roibeaird - Contributed)

Vernon Curling Club to kick off star-studded season

Talent, expertise and world champions will shine on local sheets

The Vernon Curling Club is ready for the 2019-20 season and club manager Dave Merklinger says there is a full line of competitive spiels as well as provincial playdowns scheduled for the eight sheet facility. Regular leagues for the 600 club members start on Sept. 28.

“We have the Prestige Classic in the first week of October, and so far the women’s lineup includes a former Canadian women’s champion and the current one,” he said.

Reigning Canadian champ Chelsey Carey is coming with her team and Cheryl Bernard is signed on for this year’s edition of the Classic. German skip and two-time world women’s competitor Daniela Jentsch and last year’s Classic winner, Alina Kovaleva of Russia, is entered along with one of Japan’s touring teams skipped by Miki Hayashi.

Eight time Brier competitor and local skip Jim Cotter will be the favourite on the men’s side. He has a slightly different team, with Andrew Nerpin replacing Tyrel Griffiths at the second position. Last year’s Classic champion, Sean Geall, is also entered. Vernon skip Mark Longworth is entered, as are Yusuke Morozumi, a five-time world championship and Olympic competitor, and Cloverdale’s Tyler Tardi, the 2018 Canadian junior men’s champion skip.

B.C.’s junior curlers are into cash action two weeks later with the club hosting the Rick Cotter Memorial Junior Cashspiel Oct. 18-20.

READ MORE: Vernon coach ready to warm up Cold Lake Wings

Vernon will host three provincial championships in December and early 2020. The December event includes the relatively new stick curling competition, scheduled for the Dec. 14 and 15. Merklinger said as the curling population ages, the game which features throwing with a specially fitted stick, is gaining interest locally and around the country.

“It’s the same as curling, except the player throws standing up and walking out, with a stick that holds and puts a turn on the rock, the same as a sliding player would,” Merklinger said. “We have a growing participation here in Vernon, and that group is getting ready for the competition starting next week, with a stick clinic here at the club on this Wednesday morning.”

Stick curling operates outside the ambit of the Canadian Curling Association, with players and organizers grouped into their own Canadian Stick Curling Association.

The two other provincial playdowns will see the 60+ Masters here on Jan. 24-26, and the 50+ Senior Mens’ and Womens’ competitors will be in the Club on Feb. 18-23 to enjoy some of the world’s very best curling ice and compete to represent B.C. in the national finals.

The club’s annual general meeting will be held on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the club.

READ MORE: Merklinger enters major curling club


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