As long as his body holds up and his son keeps playing, Mark Longworth will keep trying.
The veteran Vernon skip qualified for his 10th Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championship by capturing one of two Okanagan spots at the six-team regional playdowns in Penticton.
“As long as I feel good and I can continue playing with Michael (son, third on the rink), I’ll be there competing,” said Longworth, a 61-year-old office supplies sales rep. “I still enjoy it.”
The B.C. finals run Feb. 10-14 in Nelson.
The Longworths have played together at three prior provincials, including last year at their home Vernon Curling Club, with a front end of second Jon Gardner and lead John Slattery, who were making their provincial debuts.
The team made the final four in Vernon with the elder Longworth playing with a torn left hamstring.
Penticton’s Blaine Black filled in last weekend for Gardner, holding the broom for Mark Longworth on his rocks, and the rink went 3-1 to take the second berth behind Kelowna’s Jeff Richard.
After losing 10-5 in their opening game to Kelowna’s Andrew Nerpin – the Vernon rink’s first game as a team all season – Longworth rattled off consecutive wins over Sean Matheson of Kelowna (6-3), Darren Nelson of Kamloops (7-3) and a 10-7 decision over Nerpin in the B qualifier.
“The first game I didn’t play well,” said Longworth. “Then we played well against Matheson, played a solid game against Nelson and that gave us the chance to play Nerpin again.”
Both Longworths made spectacular shots in the qualifier. Michael made two runbacks with his two stones in the second end to set up a four-ender, giving the Vernon crew a 4-1 lead.
In the fifth end, facing a steal of possibly a couple of points, Mark made a double-raise, double-takeout to score another four and take an 8-3 lead.
Black was the only curler from the host city competing on the weekend. Vernon’s Aron Herrick curled with Grant Olsen of Kamloops.
The four rinks who did not qualify for Nelson will have another opportunity. The final three provincial spots will be determined at an open bonspiel Jan. 8-10 in Salmon Arm.
Longworth will join two-time defending champion Jim Cotter plus Vernon’s Jamie Sexton in Nelson. Cotter (defending champ) and New Westminster’s Dean Joanisse and Sean Geall (Canadian Team Ranking System World Curling Tour points) had already qualified.
Sexton throws third stones for Vancouver’s Stephen Schneider, who earned one of four Lower Mainland regional berths in New Westminster.
Michael Johnson and Chase Martyn of New West, and Tyler Tardi of Langley, grabbed the three other regional spots.
Former Vernon junior curler Tom Buchy of Kimberley and Creston’s Chris Ducharme captured the Kootenay berths, and Wes Craig and Neil Dangerfield, both of Victoria, won the Island playdown spots.
The eight rinks that will compete for the Scotties B.C. Women’s championship Jan. 19-24 in Coquitlam have been finalized. Grabbing the final spots were Sarah Wark of Victoria (whose rink includes former Lumby curler Simone Brosseau at third), Diane Gushulak of New Westminster and Amanda Russet of Kamloops, a team of four sisters and coached by their mom, Brenda Nordin.
Karla Thompson’s Kamloops rink – coached by Vernon’s Garry Vanderberghe – along with Amy Gibson of New West and Kesa Van Osch of Nanaimo had previously qualified.
Defending champ Patti Knezevic of Prince George gets an automatic berth to the Scotties as does six-time B.C. champ Kelly Scott of Kelowna for being the top CTRS team.