Dezura carries Cloverdale cash into Vernon Classic

Maple Ridge's Grant Dezura rides cashspiel momentum into Vernon Classic.

Grant Dezura of Maple Ridge juggles a couple of insurance companies, two kids, a wife and an elite curling schedule come winter.

And he always finds time to play in the $63,000 Prestige Hotel & Inns Curling Classic at the Vernon Curling Club, run by manager and world-class icemaker Dave Merklinger.

“Merk knows how to run a good tournament and it’s fun having the men and women in the same event,” said Dezura, who turns 41 on Oct. 20.

Dezura jumpstarted his season by claiming $2,600 in the Cloverdale Cashspiel two weeks ago, stopping Sean Geall in the final. Dezura throws third rocks while Kevin MacKenzie tosses skip stones. MacKenzie and second Jamie Smith are both based in Kelowna. Kevin Recksiedler is lead.

“It’s working good,” said Dezura, of his second-year foursome. “Kevin and I have been friends for a long time and I’ve played against him on and off.”

Dezura and Geall meet again in the men’s opening draw today at 1 p.m. There are 16 rinks chasing the $7,500 first-place purse.

Kevin Koe, a former world champion, (2010, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy) is expected to be a serious contender. Koe’s Alberta foursome brushed back reigning U.S. men’s champion Brady Clark 6-5 in the 2013 final.

Koe, a 39-year-old Yellowknife native, also pocketed back-to-back Vernon titles in 2009 and ‘10.

Koe was supported by third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen last year. He has since left that group to form a new team with third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert.

Johnny Morris will replace Koe as skip of Team Canada for the 2015 Brier in Calgary.

At the 2014 Brier, Morris skipped the B.C. team (third Jim Cotter, second Tyrel Griffith, lead Rick Sawatsky) that lost to Koe’s Alberta foursome in the final.

Cotter now has a rink featuring 2000 world junior champion Ryan Kuhn at third and a veteran front end of Griffith and Sawatsky. Cotter, who celebrated his 40th birthday at the curling club, opens today at 1 p.m. against Peter Nielsen in all-Vernon battle.

The men’s quarters are 9 a.m. Monday with the semis at noon and the final at 3 p.m.

There are 24 women’s rinks including 2013 Canadian junior champion Corryn Brown of Kamloops and 2014 Scotties silver medalist Val Sweeting of Edmonton.

Sweeting earned $4,000 three weeks ago by losing to Chelsea Carey of Edmonton in the finals of the Edmonton HDF Insurance Shootout.

The women’s triple-knockout tournament opened Thursday night and resumes at 8 a.m.

The women’s playoffs begin Sunday with the semis at noon and final at 3 p.m. The winner collects $7,500.