Young curlers step into fierce competition
The past two weekends a young Grand Forks curling team stepped into the world of competitive curling and though they were not on the winning end of things, invaluable experience was gained. Evan Turgeon, Zane Bartlett, Jordan Field, Colin Anderson and Evan Lens were entered in both the juvenile and high school playdowns. They were in Creston to face the East Kootenay representatives from Invermere in early January. This was the first experience in competitive curling for Evan Lens. He said after the day was over, “I learned so much today.” Good competition does that for any athlete. Colin was the lead in Creston and Evan (Lens) took over that position in Grand Forks a week later when the team squared off against a squad from the JL Crowe Secondary School in Trail, the winner to represent this region in the B.C. Championships in Dawson Creek. Both competitions were best of three affairs. The teams our boys were playing against were older and more experienced. In the case of Colin, he was actually too young to play in the high school category. In Creston, with a berth in the B.C. Winter Games at stake, their opponents held a 4 – 3 lead midway through the opening game before pulling ahead for a 12 – 5 victory. However, in the second contest the team from the Grand Forks Curling Centre showed some mettle, jumping out to an early 4 – 1 lead before losing a last rock 9 – 8 decision. Playing before a home crowd one week later, and representing the Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS), this team that has practiced and worked so hard this season, delighted their families and curling fans with some excellent shot-making, great sportsmanship and perhaps a taste of things to come in future years. It was refreshing to break away from the saturation and hype of pro sports on TV and watch live action between two committed and talented youth curling teams. In the first game the team from JL Crowe held a 3 – 0 edge after three ends of play but the locals didn’t fold under the pressure. Skip Turgeon and his teammates came out after the break and closed the gap to 3 – 2 after six ends of play. A couple of key misses in the seventh led to a 4 ender for Trail and a 7 – 3 win. Kelvin Harper and Justin Umpherville, skip and third respectively on the Trail foursome, were second in the province last year at the high school championships. They are grade 11 students and the other members of the team are in grade 12. In contrast three of the local boys from GFSS are in grades 8 and 9. How would they respond to this opening loss? It didn’t take long to find out. Things looked ominous in the early stages of game two as Turgeon gave up a steal of one in the opening end, and when he came to throw his last rock in the second frame he was facing five Harper stones. Now for anyone who has curled this is daunting. Playing before a home crowd and realizing that a miss would put his team in an insurmountable 6 – 0 deficit this young skip made a key draw and his team was back in business. It seemed to inspire them as they stole three in the next end and held a 5 – 2 lead after five. The rest of the game was a nail-biter as Trail crawled back into it and held a 6 – 5 lead playing the final end. Grand Forks had the hammer and did have an opportunity to possibly get two, or at least tie the game, but it was not to be. These young curlers and their dedicated coach, Dave Bartlett, can be extremely proud of the way they handled themselves these past two weekends.