Stick curlers Phil Culbert (left) and Blaine Olson practise at the Vernon Curling Club for the 2016 Canadian Stick Curling Championships which begin Monday at the club.

Stick curlers Phil Culbert (left) and Blaine Olson practise at the Vernon Curling Club for the 2016 Canadian Stick Curling Championships which begin Monday at the club.

Stick curling nationals set with 40 rinks

Stick curling is keeping everybody in the game with a simple set of rules and no need to put physical strains on your body.

Morning Star Staff

Back in the day, a bad knee, back or hip meant your curling career was over.

Stick curling is keeping everybody in the game with a simple set of rules and no need to put physical strains on your body.

The 2016 Canadian Stick Curling Championship starts Monday at the Vernon Curling Club with a full draw over three days,

“We have 40 teams and we sold out a month before the event,” said Vernon director Phil Culbert. “We have 32 rinks from B.C., including six from Vernon. There are three teams from P.E.I, and one each from Manitoba and Alberta.”

Priority registration was given to all the provincial champions as well as past national winners “so this event promises to showcase the best stick curlers from across the country.”

Culbert urges the general public to check out the exciting action.

“It’s also an opportunity for people who used to curl years ago to come out and watch as they may have given the sport up due to injuries to their knees, hips or backs and found it too painful to get down into the hack to throw the rocks.  This sport may be their chance to get back into the game that they loved. With stick curling, you can play well into your 80s.”

Stick curling is done with a carbon fibre stick device with a special attachment that hooks onto the stone handle. Delivery of the rock is simply made by walking out of the hack and releasing the stone just before the hog line with an appropriate in- or out-turn of the rock to the house exactly as one would do with slide curling without the pain and strain on your joints.

“It’s also an opportunity for wheelchair athletes to participate. We have three wheelchair curlers in the nationals, including Gerry Austgarden of Kelowna and Daryl Neighbour of Richmond.”

Austgarden skipped Team B.C. to gold at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship lasyear in Quebec. Neighbour was vice-skip,

The first draw starts at 8 a.m. Monday, with special opening ceremonies taking place on the ice at 11:30 am.

All 80 curlers will be led onto the ice by members of the Kalamalka Highlander Pipe band for introductions, the singing of O Canada and speeches from local dignitaries, including Vernon Monashee MLA Eric Foster. Play resumes immediately following the opening ceremonies.

Neighbour and Bob MacDonald of Ladner open the playdowns in the 9 a.m. draw. Culbert and Blaine Olson of Vernon start at 10 a.m. All games are six ends so are finished in approximately an hour.

Tim Smith and John Campbell of Armstrong are rock stars in the sport after winning three provincial titles, their last win coming in 2013 in Enderby.

Last year’s nationals were in Winnipeg. The 2017 finals are in Nova Scotia.

Bannister Honda, Parnell’s Appliance and Electronics, the Royal York Golf Club and The Rise Golf Club are major sponsors this year,