Junior curlers chase $10k purse

Vernon Curling Club hosting $10,000 14th annual Rick Cotter Memorial Junior Classic this weekend.

With a $10,000 purse, Jim Cotter is pretty sure the 14th annual Rick Cotter Memorial Curling Classic is the biggest junior cashpiel on the planet.

“We did some searching around and nothing is close,” said Jim, Rick’s son. “It’s bigger than some World Curling Tour events.”

Rick started the event in 1999 and ran it out of the McArthur Island Curling Club in Kamloops until 2005, when he died of cancer. The club carried on the tradition until last year, and now Jim has taken over and moved it to the Vernon Curling Club.

The 20-team (12 boys, eight girls) event starts tonight at 4:30, with a second draw at 7:30. Action continues Saturday morning at 9:30, with other draws at 12:30, 3:30 and 7:30. The championship games go at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s an awesome field,” said Jim, noting there are team from as far away as Japan and the Northwest Territories competing. “We’ve been getting tons of messages from the teams coming and they’re all excited.

“The committee’s done a great job pulling it all together.”

Local rinks competing include Brendan Cliff, Matt Schiman and Thomas Love on the boys side, and Claire Schmidt for the girls. Vernon’s Sydney Hofer is competing with Team Daniels.

The draw also features 2013 Canada champion Corryn Brown of Kamloops, as well as both Team B.C. entries for the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Prince George.

The winner claims $2,000, runners-up pocket $1,600 with third and fourth place earning $800 and $600 respectively.

Jim said part of the reason his father started the event was to give junior curlers the experience of playing in a high-pressure playdown.

“To have the tops teams play against each other and put a few dollars in their pockets – that was his primary focus,” said Jim. “There’s a lot of value in playing your competition.

“Everyone will walk away with something.”

On the boys side, teams are grouped into three pools, with the top six records, including shootout, going to the main money round.

The other six play in second bracket with $50 per win.

The girls will play a triple knockout format, followed by a playoff round.

Admission is free, but spectators are encouraged to donate cash or nonperishable food items for the Vernon food bank.

Cotter thanked sponsors Prestige Hotels, Vernon Kia, Sun FM, North Enderby Timber, Baron Insurance, Knifeless Tech Systems.