Campaigning may be over in the United States, but it’s just starting in Canadian curling circles, and Brandonites Rob Fowler and Allan Lyburn are hoping to come out on top.
The pair, along with their teammates Richard Daneault and Derek Samagalski, and former Brandonites Mike McEwen and Nolan Thiessen are six of the 32 players curling fans can vote for to compete in January’s Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game, which will be broadcast on TSN. The top four vote-getters from each position will be selected to play in the event to be held on a single sheet of ice at Casino Rama in Ontario. The teams will be created by a random draw and $100,000 will be up for grabs.
Fowler, whose team was eligible for the vote because it finished in the top eight teams in the Canadian Teams Ranking System last season, would love to have the opportunity to compete in the Skins Game.
"Getting into the competition would be extremely exciting," said Fowler, whose team won a bronze medal at the Brier earlier this year in Saskatoon. "From what we hear talking to the guys who have been in the event, they say it’s a venue like no other to have the one sheet and to be in a casino and have a packed house, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere."
Because this event isn’t about teams currently together, there is a good chance players will be split up, and some curlers from teams will play in the Skins Game while others will not. While any member of the Fowler foursome would support any teammate getting voted in, Lyburn hopes to make a profit if anyone from his squad gets voted in.
"I’d just tell him to give me half his money," he said with a laugh.
Fowler’s Brandon Curling Club team has been working hard to get people to vote for them. All the members have approached family and friends — including those overseas in Lyburn’s case — and have taken to their social media accounts to encourage people to vote.
Whether he gets in or not, Fowler loves the new concept. Before this season, top teams were hand-picked to compete. The new selection process gets the fans more engaged with curling and gives them a unique control over an event. He also hopes it will bring some new players to the annual event.
"I think is would be nice to see some fresh faces at an event like the Skins Game," he said. "There’s been a few teams there that have been mainstays for the last 10, 15, 20 years. We kind of need to see some new faces in there."
People can vote once per day at curlingskins.tsn.ca. Polls close on Dec. 10.
WCT: There will be a strong Westman flavour in Swan River from Friday through Monday for the World Curling Tour’s Whites’ Drug Store Classic. Among the teams competing for the $50,000 purse are Fowler, McEwen, Brandon’s Terry McNamee, as well as Kelly Marnoch and Rob Van Kommer, both of whom are from Carberry, and former Brandonite William Lyburn of Winnipeg.
WHEELCHAIR CURLING: Crystal City’s Dennis Thiessen has been shortlisted for the Canadian wheelchair curling team that will compete in the 2013 world championship at Sochi, Russia. Thiessen, who skipped Manitoba to a sixth-place finish at the 2012 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship, will join seven other athletes for a final training camp in December to decide who makes the squad.
EXTRA ENDS: The Brandon Curling Club will host a reception/send off in the upstairs lounge on Tuesday for Terry McNamee’s team that will go to the mixed nationals. The event starts at 8 p.m., and will feature a rainbow auction, food and a cash bar. … Thirty-two of the best junior-aged curlers in Canada and the United States are coming to Brandon for the Sun Life Junior Challenge from Nov. 15-18 … The Riverview Curling Club is taking registrations for its fall bonspiel, which will run from Nov. 16-18. Contact Chris Church at 204-728-5927 or Colleen Gillie at 204-728-1181 … Shoal Lake will host a masters’ cash bonspiel from Nov. 22-25. Contact Ron Anderson at 204-759-2385.