Top women’s teams in Vernon for $40,000 cashspiel

Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic draws world elite women's talent.

The who’s who of women’s curling will be in action starting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Vernon Curling Club.

Former world champions and a handful of rinks headed to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will compete in a field of 32 at the $40,000 Prestige Hotels & Resorts Curling Classic.

Other Thursday draws are at 1, 5 and 8 p.m. Admission is $10 a day, or $30 for a five-day pass.

Headlining the triple-knockout event are Canadians Cheryl Bernard (Calgary), Shannon Kleibrink (Calgary), Kelley Law (New Westminster), Kelly Scott (Kelowna) and defending champion Heather Nedohin (Edmonton).

Big-name international rinks include Eve Muirhead (Scotland), Bingyu (Betty) Wang (China), Anna Sidorova (Russia) and Mirjam Ott (Switzerland).

Robbi Kuhn, supported by Karla Thompson, Brooklyn Leitch and Michelle Ramsay is the lone local entry.

“The lineup for the women is best we’ve had for sure,” said Vernon club manager Dave Merklinger. “Teams from all over the world, and some of them are Olympic teams. And who knows what’ll happen here from Canada.”

Meanwhile, Jim Cotter’s new-look Vernon rink, featuring skip John (Johnny Mo) Morris, will look to defend its Prestige men’s title when action begins Friday morning (10:30).

Cotter enters the 32-team, $26,000 men’s draw after a quarterfinalist performance at the Point Optical Curling Classic last weekend at the Nutana Curling Club in Saskatoon.

Morris joined the Cotter rink after playing with Edmonton’s Kevin Martin. Cotter, supported by second Tyrell Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky, will throw skip’s stones.

Mark Longworth (Jamie Sexton, Hugh Bennett and Michael Longworth), and TJ Perepolkin (Deane Horning, Tyler Orme and Chris Anderson) head the other local rinks.

The men’s final is set for 3 p.m. Monday. The women’s final goes 4 p.m. Sunday.