Jim Cotter’s Vernon/Kelowna rink has added a former world champion to its lineup for the upcoming curling season.
Vernon’s Ryan Kuhn, who helped B.C. to a gold medal at the 2000 World Junior Curling Championship, will play third for the Okanagan team in 2014-15.
“We’re super excited about Ryan joining us,” Cotter said of Kuhn, who played second for his brother Brad Kuhn in 2000. “He’s a talented player who’s had success playing competitively in the past.”
Kuhn fills the vacancy left by John Morris, who joined Cotter’s rink last season, leading the Vernon/Kelowna foursome to the B.C. title and berths in the finals of both the Olympic trials and the Brier.
Cotter, who threw fourth rocks last season while Morris called the game, will return to his former role as skip, while Kuhn will play third, Tyrel Griffith will be at second and Rick Sawatsky at lead.
“I don’t know how you rate this,” laughed Kuhn, 31, a WestJet pilot. “I’m very excited to be joining this team. Ten out of 10 for sure.”
Since leaving the Cotter rink, Morris has since resurfaced as the skip for the defending Brier champs, replacing Alberta’s Kevin Koe who decided to move on to form a new rink of his own.
“I talked it over with Jim, Tyrel and Rick and they were very understanding,” said Morris. “I can’t thank them enough for the season we had, and I wish them nothing but the very best going forward.”
Morris, who lives in Calgary, was granted permission by Curl B.C. to join the Cotter team for the 2013-14 season.
Cotter said his rink and Morris parted ways on good terms and didn’t rule out the possibility of perhaps joining forces with him again in the future.
As a team, the Morris/Cotter rink were contenders at virtually every event it played in, including losing a pair of heartbreaking final games at both the Olympic trials and the Brier.
“It was definitely the best season I’ve ever been involved in,” Cotter said. “It was a little tough to take getting that close and falling short twice, but now that time has passed we realized just what we accomplished. It really was a great year.”
Still, Cotter said his rink is ready to move on with Kuhn at third, a player with loads of ability.
“Seeing Ryan over the years in Super League and at bonspiels, he just made a ton of shots,” Cotter said. “He plays the up-weight well, he has nice soft game…he does it all well. His personality fits well with us, too, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Added Kuhn: “I’ve played in leagues over the years but this is such a great group of guys so I don’t feel any pressure in joining them. We’re just going to go out there and have some fun.”
Cotter said his team will play a lighter schedule than the past couple of years, playing in a few World Curling Tour events, as well as possibly the four Grand Slam competitions.