Another star-studded international field will converge on the Vernon Curling Club in October.
Past event champions, provincial winners, Canadian champions and former world champs are dotted among the teams entered for the annual Prestige Hotels and Resorts Curling Classic Oct. 1 to 5.
“We’ve got teams from the U.S., Japan, Korea and Switzerland joining the Canadian rinks,” said Vernon Curling Club manager Dave Merklinger.
The first draw will be at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1.
A total of 28 women’s teams will compete for $37,000 in prize money, led by defending champion Ayumi Ogasawara of Japan, who knocked off Edmonton’s Val Sweeting in the 2014 Classic final.
Three-time event winner Cheryl Bernard of Calgary is returning as is 2006 winner, multiple-B.C. champ Kelly Scott of Kelowna.
The field also includes 2006 Olympic bronze medalist and 2008 Prestige winner Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary and Scotties Tournament of Hearts national championship participants Patti Knezevic of Prince George (reigning B.C. women’s champ), Stefanie Lawton and Michelle Englot of Saskatchewan,and former Canadian Junior champion Corryn Brown of Kamloops.
Eight rinks will qualify for the playoffs with the women’s final going Sunday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m.
There will be 15 men’s rink competing for $18,000 in prizes, including hometown favourite Jim Cotter, the current B.C. men’s champ.
Joining Cotter and his rink of Ryan Kuhn, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky is current Canadian men’s champion Pat Simmons of Calgary, whose team includes former Cotter skip John Morris.
“Having Jim playing at home will be great,” said Merklinger. “He’s had a terrific start to the year, winning a Slam event (Tour Challenge Tier 2 Division) in Newfoundland, and making the semifinals in Toronto (Stu Sells Oakville Tankard).”
Grant Dezura of Maple Ridge beat Brent Pierce of Kelowna in last year’s Classic final. Both rinks return in 2015.
Also competing on the men’s draw will be the likes of New Westminster’s Dean Joanisse, who lost the 2015 provincial final to Cotter at the Vernon Curling Club in February, and Vernon’s Jamie Sexton,who is backed by James McKenzie, former World Junior champion Hugh Bennett and Rob Norbert.
It is anticipated that six teams will qualify for the playoffs on the weekend with the men’s final slated for Monday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m.
Tickets for the cashspiel are available at the Vernon Curling Club.
A tournament pass is $30, and a day pass is $10.
Meanwhile, the curling club will host an open house Sunday from noon til 4 p.m.
“The event is open to anyone interested in curling,” said Merklinger.
The club will also host beginner and intermediate clinics Monday and Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m.
You can pre-register for the clinic at the curling club or you can simply show up to the event.