Kootenay curlers won gold for BC at the Canada 55+ Games.
Verna Chernoff and Jim Swanson of Castlegar played on the BC mixed 65+ curling team at this year’s Canada 55+ Games in Brampton, Ont. last week and defeated Alberta to bring home the gold. Their rink was led by Paul Devlin from Fruitvale, with Marnie Devlin playing third, Swanson playing second and Chernoff playing first.
“We were an interesting team. I’m the newbie in the group, and the rest are experienced curlers. Our skip, Paul Devlin, … has played in Briers in the past, so he had a ton of experience and knowledge to direct us and lead us,” said Chernoff.
Asked if she was nervous going into the gold medal game, Chernoff said, “Once you get out on the ice it’s one rock at a time.”
Team BC went undefeated during the games, beating the Yukon on Tuesday, Saskatchewan and Alberta on Wednesday, Nova Scotia and Manitoba on Thursday, and winning the gold medal game on Friday. Of the six games the team played, three were won in extra ends. The team qualified to compete in Brampton after triumphing at the BC Senior 55+ Games last August, where they also went undefeated.
“The only team that has beaten our team was a team from the Castlegar Curling Club — the senior group of the Castlegar Curling Club,” said Chernoff. “We got them to make a team to play us to take some of the rust off, and they polished us up pretty good.”
Competing at the national level gave the Kootenay team an opportunity to meet fellow curlers and senior athletes from all over the country.
“There were approximately 1600 competitors in various sports,” said Chernoff. “It was neat for us — there were five other provinces — it was very neat to meet them and get to know them and what their lifestyle was like, especially the Yukon — to see what they do and how far they have to travel to compete and make a team and things like that.”
There were also plenty of people in the crowd to watch them play.
“We had all kinds of spectators watching us,” said Chernoff. “Just like the big league.”
But as much fun as it was to be away, Chernoff said it was great to come home to Castlegar, where everyone was very excited to follow the team’s progress.
“There’s nothing like coming home to see the interest and support from the community,” said Chernoff.
Chernoff isn’t sure that the team will compete as a rink in the upcoming BC Seniors 55+ Games in Coquitlam this September. “So far we’re tired and broke, so we’re saying no, but who knows. I don’t think we would go as a team perhaps, but who knows.”
The team also wanted to thank the Castlegar Curling Club, the City of Castlegar, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay for helping with the costs of attending the games.