BC's top masters curlers heat up the ice

Gerry Foster
By Gerry Foster
March 9th, 2012

It was a team of veteran curlers who have dominated Masters play in BC the past five years, and a team of relative newcomers to competitive curling who came out on top last weekend in Grand Forks at the 26th BC Masters Curling championship.

Rick Pughe from Royal City Curling Centre in New Westminster and Beverly Skinner from Summerland skipped their respective teams to victory in the annual event for curlers over 60.

The curling was outstanding throughout the four days of round robin play and playoffs. What a treat to be able to watch such high calibre curling, many of the participants having years of experience including national championships.

In semi-final action Sunday morning the Skinner team knocked 2003 winner, Sandra Gallaway from Comox, out of contention with a 7-4 win, and in the other Women’s semi-final Carol McFadden, the 2008 winner was upended by Kelowna’s Maureen Bird 9-1. McFadden, from Royal City, was the only team in the Round Robin, Women’s or Men’s, to go undefeated but was unable to get untracked against the Bird foursome.

In the final Bird seemed to have the game under control, leading 4-2 after 5 ends. In the seventh end she missed both her shots which proved to be the turning point of the game. The Kelowna skip, playing in her 4th provincials in the past 5 years, still had an opportunity to send the game to an extra end but her attempted draw slid through the rings along with her dreams of a trip to Montreal for the Nationals. Curling with Beverly Skinner are Wendy Archer, Betty Raymond and Rosemarie Fenrich.

It should be noted that this team from the Summerland Curling Centre recently curled in the Grand Forks Combined Bonspiel as a warm-up to the Provincials.

In the Men’s semi-finals Craig Lightbody from New Westminster defeated Doug Bothamley from Creston 6-4. Lightbody stole three points in the 6th end to take a commanding 6-1 lead. In the second semi-final Pughe faced the Bob Gallaugher squad from Duncan, cracking a big four in the 6th end on the way to an 8-2 win and a spot in the finals.

The Pughe-Lightbody, all Royal City final, kept the spectators on the edge of their seats throughout. The game was tied at four entering the eighth end of play with Pughe holding last rock advantage. Lightbody was faced with an extremely difficult draw to get a piece of the button and it was not to be; Rick Pughe and his team of John Zwarych, Jack Finnbogasson and Bob Byrne will now represent BC at the Canadian Championships in Montreal which start on March 26th.

The field of curlers in Grand Forks, who was hosting their second BC Masters to go along with the BC Senior Men’s in 2008, was certainly talented. Evidence of this was the Garry Gelowitz team from Kelowna, the defending Canadian Masters Men’s champion, not making the playoffs.

The win by Rick Pughe and his outstanding squad was record setting, as they became the first curling foursome to win the BC Men’s Masters three times. Arguably we were watching the finest team in the 26 year history of BC Masters curling. What a gift to local fans of the roaring game!

It was an entertaining event with the volunteers doing exceptional work and serving as outstanding hosts. Many complements were directed toward the committee from the visiting athletes and guests.

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