Masters Curling champ crowned in Cowichan

Mill Bay’s Wes Craig, skip of Team Craig, concentrates before releasing the stone during the men’s final of the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. Games were also held at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan and the Kerry Park Curling Centre in Mill Bay (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Mill Bay’s Wes Craig, skip of Team Craig, concentrates before releasing the stone during the men’s final of the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. Games were also held at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan and the Kerry Park Curling Centre in Mill Bay (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Rinks from across the province competed at curling clubs in Lake Cowichan, Duncan and Mill Bay on March 5-8 at the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Craig Lepine, skip of Team Lepine calls instructions to his teammates during the men’s final of the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. Games were also held at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan and the Kerry Park Curling Centre in Mill Bay (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Skip Craig Lepine of Team Lepine carefully throws his stone, eventually taking his team to gold in the men’s final of the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. Games were also held at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan and the Kerry Park Curling Centre in Mill Bay (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Team Lepine, from Langley/Royal City/Penticton/Cloverdale was awarded gold on Sunday, March 8 after beating the Craig Team at the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships. Skipped by Craig Lepine, the team included third Neil Houston, second Craig McLeod and lead Kevin Jeannotte, and was coached by Karen Lepine. Games were also held at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan and the Kerry Park Curling Centre in Mill Bay (Malcolm Chalmers photo)

The Kerry Park/Victoria/Comox Valley rink skipped by the Cowichan Valley’s own Wes Craig came up just short of a provincial masters curling title in the championship that wrapped up at Lake Cowichan on Sunday.

With six wins and one loss in round-robin play, Craig’s team had the best record on the men’s side at the 2020 Connect Hearing BC Masters Curling Championships and earned a bye straight to the final on Sunday morning, where they were defeated 8-4 by Craig Lepine’s Langley/Royal City/Penticton/Cloverdale foursome.

“It’s too bad,” Craig said. “We just didn’t have our best game. We had a good week; we just lost the wrong one.”

The Craig rink, which included third Ron Schmidt, second Tony Anslow and lead Blair Cusack, had previously defeated Lepine by the same score in round-robin play last Wednesday. Craig and Lepine have squared off half a dozen times in provincial finals at various levels, and Craig doesn’t think this will be the last time.

Craig, who has numerous provincial and national titles to his name, won the 2020 BC Provincial Senior Men’s Curling Championships in Vernon in February, and was looking to add a second crown this season. The senior championships are for curlers ages 50 and up, and the masters championships is for curlers 60-plus. Craig will head to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba next week for the 2020 Canadian Seniors, his fifth trip to that event.

“I felt bad for my team, because I have another one next week,” the skip commented.

Craig felt particularly bad for Schmidt, who was on the rink that Craig’s team beat in the final at the senior championships.

The provincial men’s and women’s masters championships were originally slated for Lake Cowichan and Duncan, but some draws had to be moved to Kerry Park Curling Centre because of an ice plant failure at the Glen Harper Curling Centre in Duncan. Kerry Park had its own event, the Lorraine Gagnon Memorial Open Bonspiel, running on the same dates as the BC Masters, but was able to make room for some extra matches.

It was even more disappointing, Craig said, to lose the final so close to home.

“It always hurts, and especially when there’s support from family and friends,” he acknowledged. “It would have been nice to win, but it’s always nice to have support.”

This was Craig’s second year competing at the masters level. In 2019, his rink lost in the semifinals at provincials.

Melissa Sim, the event manager for Curl BC, said that the organizing committee, sponsors, volunteers, ice makers and athletes were all accommodating of the many changes that had to be made.

“We are so grateful that curlers at Kerry Park were able to rearrange their schedules to accommodate some of our masters draws,” she said. “The ad hoc theme of the event became ‘embrace the chaos’ as the plant failure at Duncan happened the night before the first games were due to be played and which necessitated changes and updates throughout the first couple of days of the event.

“A big thank you needs to go to the host committee chair Linda Blatchford from Cowichan Rocks who was an absolute rock star all week and who made the event fun for everyone.”

The BC Masters women’s title went to Janet Klebe’s Chilliwack/Richmond/Cloverdale/Langley team for the second year in a row. The Klebe rink finished third in the round robin, then defeated the Nanaimo/Qualicum rink skipped by Debbie Erdos 7-4 in the semifinal, and Cindy House’s Royal City foursome 7-3 in the final.

The Duncan/Victoria rink of skip Pat Sanders, third Diane Myrden, second Sherry Findlay and lead Roselyn Craig — Wes’s wife — narrowly missed the playoffs on the women’s side, going 3-4 in the round robin to place fourth. Among Sanders’s wins was a 10-9 victory over Klebe in pool play last Wednesday.

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