The 2013-14 curling season will be one that many Westman curlers will remember for the rest of their lives, with the region having players that were on three national championship squads.
Brandonites Lois Fowler and Maureen Bonar as well as Carberry’s Braden Calvert etched their names in history by winning their first-ever national championships to highlight the season on the ice for southwest Manitoba. For Fowler, winning the Canadian senior women’s title in Yellowknife last month was the culmination of 32 years of work. She also got to share it with three of her best friends in Bonar, second Cathy Gauthier and lead Allyson Stewart.
It was also Bonar’s first national championship.
The foursome was able to curl together as most of the events were pushed up this year due to the Olympics, which meant Gauthier didn’t have to work for TSN during the weekend of the provincial seniors. The Fowler team will don the Maple Leaf for the 2015 world seniors.
Meanwhile, Calvert, who moved to Winnipeg for university, won the national junior men’s curling championship in Liverpool, N.S. His team of Kyle Kurz, Lucas Van Den Bosch and Brendan Wilson went on to represent Canada at the worlds in Switzerland, where they just missed a medal, placing fourth.
Stacey Fordyce and her team of Christy Erickson, Stacey Irwin and Pam Gouldie started the season on the right foot for the region by winning the women’s Canadian Dominion Curling Club Championship in November.
Former Brandonite Nolan Thiessen also won a national title this season as he was the lead on Kevin Koe’s Brier championship team. They finished fourth at the worlds in China. The region can also lay claim to an Olympic medal this year as former Brandonite Jill Officer threw second stones for the Jennifer Jones team that won gold at the Sochi Games in Russia.
There were other success stories on the ice. Neepawa’s Kelly Robertson guided his team of Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales to their third provincial senior men’s title in four years and went on to a silver medal performance at nationals.
Despite never skipping a team at the elite men’s level, Steve Irwin and his Brandon-based team of Joey Witherspoon, Travis Taylor and Travis Saban made some noise with their fourth-place finish at the Safeway Championship in Winnipeg, while Brandon teams skipped by Kelsey Russill — filling in for an absent Fordyce — and Kortney Teale both posted winning records at the provincial Scotties and narrowly missed out on tiebreakers.
While there was a lot of on-ice success, there was also some off the ice, especially for Virden. The community put on the provincial Scotties, in which Winnipeg’s Chelsea Carey won her first-ever title, in Tundra Oil and Gas Place and it did incredibly well. The event raised $133,000, which will likely be used to help build a new curling club.
Next season could be just as exciting off the ice with Brandon named the host community for the Safeway Championship, which will be put on in Westman Place in February. The Brandon Curling Club — which hosted the provincial seniors this season — also turns 125 years old.