Vernon’s Jim Cotter (left) is featured prominently on the online advertising poster for the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championships set for March 6-14 in Calgary. Cotter and teammates Steve Laycock, Andrew Nerpin and Rick Sawatsky were declared B.C. men’s champs by Curl BC after winning the title in 2020. Curl BC cancelled the 2021 provincial tournament in Cotter’s hometown of Kamloops due to COVID-19. (curling.ca photo)

Vernon’s Jim Cotter (left) is featured prominently on the online advertising poster for the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championships set for March 6-14 in Calgary. Cotter and teammates Steve Laycock, Andrew Nerpin and Rick Sawatsky were declared B.C. men’s champs by Curl BC after winning the title in 2020. Curl BC cancelled the 2021 provincial tournament in Cotter’s hometown of Kamloops due to COVID-19. (curling.ca photo)

Vernon curlers returning to Brier

Jim Cotter and Rick Sawatsky, and teammates Steve Laycock and Andrew Nerpin, named B.C. reps

The first thing Vernon curler Jim Cotter did when he found out he was officially going to his 10th Tim Hortons Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championship was check to see who had practice ice available.

Cotter and rinkmates Steve Laycock of Saskatoon, and the Kelowna front end of Andrew Nerpin and Vernon native Rick Sawatsky will represent B.C. March 6-14 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary. This came after Curl BC made the decision Jan. 7 to cancel the B.C. Men’s and Women’s Championships, slated for Cotter’s hometown of Kamloops Jan. 26-31 at the McArthur Island Sports Centre, in light of the provincial health order issued that day regarding COVID-19 protocols.

Curl BC declared that the 2020 provincial champions would represent the province at the 2021 nationals – the Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts – both slated for the hub city of Calgary.

“The men’s provincials were going to be an open tournament, anybody could have entered,” said Cotter, 46. “I think there were 16 teams entered on the women’s side and 15 on the men’s.

“My biggest concern when we found out about the cancellation was to make sure we could get practice ice. The provincial health order extended to Feb. 5 so some curling clubs were looking at closing. I’ve got to send a huge thank you to the Vernon Curling Club, the board and (manager) Dave Merklinger for keeping the ice. In some communities, there is no curling going on.”

Said Scott Braley, chief executive officer of Curl BC: “The safety of our athletes and volunteers is a top priority. We were hopeful that all the efforts to bend the curve would lead to fewer cases of COVID-19 in the province and more opportunities for people to compete. However, the numbers are still much higher than anyone wants – and it will be difficult for clubs to stay open – so the best course of action is to cancel.”

Cotter said with Laycock in Saskatoon, he’s unlikely able to travel to practice with his teammates before Jan. 15. Cotter, Sawatsky and Nerpin are carded athletes in B.C. which means they are allowed, under rules of the provincial health office and ViaSport B.C., to travel within the province.

“Between now and the Brier, we’ll be throwing rocks every single day, the Vernon Curling Club is open for that,” said Cotter. “Once we find out about Steve’s ability to travel, we’ll ideally do some camps before the Brier. Andrew, Swat (Sawatsky) and I will probably get together because we can as carded athletes.”

For Cotter, Sawatsky and Laycock, the Calgary Brier will be the 10th national championship tournament for each, all three looking for that elusive national title. Nerpin will be in his third Brier.

If not for COVID, and had Cotter and Sawatsky won a ninth provincial title in 11 years, it would have been in Cotter’s hometown. He lost the 2014 Brier final to Kevin Koe of Calgary in front of a partisan, capacity crowd in Kamloops. A hometown win this month would have propelled the B.C. champs down Highway 97 to Kelowna, which was scheduled to host the 2021 Brier. Curling Canada announced Dec. 1 that all 2021 Season of Champions events would be in a hub city, Calgary.

“All four of us were super excited to play the B.C.’s in Kamloops, where I grew up, and if we’d won there, the Brier was in Kelowna where two of the guys live,” said Cotter. “It’s definitely a little disappointing.”

And for the first time, the Brier will be played without its raucous, knowledgable sportsman-like fans who applaud great shots no matter who throws them.

“It will be different,” laughed Cotter, who went 2-5 at the 2020 Brier in Kingston, Ont., eliminated from playoff contention.

Curlers will be tested three times for COVID-19 prior to the Brier starting.

Lethbridge has been awarded the 2022 Brier. Kelowna is expected to bid on the 2023 tournament.

Corryn Brown of Kamloops is the 2020 B.C. women’s champ who will represent the province at the Scotties in Calgary.

READ MORE: Vernon rink rolling into Brier

READ MORE: Vernon rink ends Brier with loss

READ MORE: Cotter Rink wins 2020 BC Men’s Curling Championship

READ MORE: Tim Hortons Brier not coming to Kelowna



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

curling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Vernon elementary school

Exposure at BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman Kieran Ruscheinski (right) sticks close to Vernon Vipers forward Logan Lorenz during Salmon Arm’s 2-1 overtime win in B.C. Hockey League pod play Saturday, April 10, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Mack attack paces Salmon Arm Silverbacks past Vernon

Sullivan Mack scores both goals, including beautiful OT winner, in Gorillas’ 2-1 BCHL pod play win over Snakes

Paddlewheel Park off Okanagan Landing Road, Vernon. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looks to address parking shortage at Paddlewheel Park

City staff are looking into short, medium and long-term overflow parking options

(GVMA)
WATCH: A Royal procession through Vernon, 1959

Prince Philip, who died April 9 at 99, visited Vernon on a tour of Canada in 1959

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read