Sticks and stones at provincials

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St. Albert Curling Club hosts stick provincial bonspiel next weekend

Curlers will throw more draws than takeouts at the stick provincial championship next weekend at the St. Albert Curling Club.

“You will see some exceptionally good draw curling. If you can’t draw you’re not going to win many games,” said Milt McDougall, a St. Albert curler and organizer of the Feb. 3-5 provincial bonspiel.

The finesse brand of curling consists of teams of two players, male or female, of any age. They can either stick deliver or slide deliver.

“There is no sweeping between the hog lines. You can sweep from the hog line in only,” McDougall said. “You also can’t go down to the other end to look to see what you have to hit. You can go halfway and look or communicate with your skip but we try and discourage that because it delays the game.”

Games are six ends and the average playing time is one hour.

“You throw six rocks and you throw alternately with your opposition so there will be 12 rocks in play,” McDougall said. “The two players who were the skips that end become the throwers and you become the skip and they throw them back to you.”

Stick curling is a relatively new sport for people with advanced age or physical disabilities like knee, back, heart, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, ankle or foot problems.

“It’s a little different but a lot of fun,” McDougall said.

As of Tuesday, 31 teams had registered for provincials, including a strong contingent from Calgary.

McDougall estimates 60 per cent of the curlers will be men and 99 per cent of all the participants will be stick curlers and seniors.

“Last year at provincials in Brooks, the oldest curler was 92 years old from Calgary,” he said.

Twelve teams from St. Albert are entered.

“Almost all the St. Albert curlers are retired, in their late 60s and 70s and 99 per cent of them play in the St. Albert senior leagues,” McDougall said.

Provincials start Friday. The first draw goes at 7:30 a.m. and the opening ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. The final is Sunday at 1 p.m.

Hosting provincials in St. Albert has been a labour of love for the 73-year-old McDougall, a director and draw committee member on the club’s 50-plus seniors’ executive.

“I had a stick spiel here two years ago. It was very successful and people who came to it suggested it would be nice if we hold provincials,” he said. “They try and have it north and south alternating back and forth. Last year it was down in Brooks and that’s where I announced that St. Albert would do it. Our club was excited about doing it and I’m happy we’re hosting it.”

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Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.