VIDEO: Senior ladies curling bonspiel in Surrey features sass, spunk and sweeping

Cloverdale bonspiel brings together women from across B.C. who all share the same passion for curling – and for life.

Irene Ormrod and Caroline Koehler have a little too much fun in Cloverdale Monday during the 50th iteration of the Nifty Fifty Senior Ladies Curling Bonspiel.




Irene Ormrod will tell you how old she is, but she’ll also insist “age is just a number.”

At 81 years young, the Chilliwack resident has nearly 50 years as a curler under her belt.

And don’t dare call her old or frail, this gal still curls twice a week and shows no signs of slowing down.

Since 1970, Ormrod has curled with the Cloverdale Curling Club (and the Valley Curling Club, as it was formerly known), but on Monday, she was there for a very specific reason.

It was the 50th iteration of the provincial Nifty Fifty Senior Ladies Curling Bonspiel, which this year took place at the rink on Cloverdale Fairgrounds from March 20 to 22. It’s a travelling event, each year held in late March in a different city around B.C. Thirty-six teams are involved, in all.

(The Nifty Fifty bonspiel results weren’t finalized at the Now’s deadline. Stay tuned to the website for the results once they’re in.)

The goal of event is to bring together women curlers, over the age of 50, from all over B.C.

The inaugural Nifty Fifty was held in the late ’60s at Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster, where some 128 ladies hit the ice. This year, for its 50th anniversary, more than 144 participants took part – and many have curled in the bonspiel for two decades or more.

This is Ormrod’s 19th year playing in the three-day tourney. And though she’s not the eldest participant, she’s darn close.

In fact, at the Cloverdale rink this week, she’s curling against the daughter of someone she used to curl with.

“Now she’s skipping the team. That’s really showing my age, isn’t it?” Ormrod laughed. “I’ve known people who quit curling too early and they miss all this. For one reason or another they’ve had to leave, illness, one thing or another. They miss it. They miss that camaraderie. It gives you a zest for life doesn’t it? The exercise is good too.”

Ormrod’s team once got an “eight ender” in the Nifty Fifty tourney, which is when all eight rocks are in the house in the end. It’s the curling equivalent of a hole in one in golf, or a home run in baseball, she explained.

“This was at the Langley club and I think the manager was more excited than I was,” she recalled.

Surrey’s Caroline Koehler, 74, was also competing in the bonspiel this week. Like Ormrod, she’s been curling since the late ’60s.

“Its a little bit of a difficult bonspiel to get into because you go by seniority,” she said of Nifty Fifty. “And you have to be 50 in order to curl in it. A lot of us are well past 50.”

(Koehler, left, pictured with Ormrod on the ice during the Nifty Fifty Senior Ladies Curling Bonspiel.)

Koehler’s been with the Cloverdale Curling Club since she moved to the city in 1981 and said of all the decades she’s curled, the standout has to be winning the provincials with her team.

“That was in 2004,” she said. “We were actually on the island, but my team was from this club.”

Koehler said she’s bonded with many women over the years, and many friendships have formed through curling.

“We’re good friends, and sometimes not so good friends,” she added, laughing. “Oh yes, oh yes, lots of team dynamics.

“Sometimes we’re threatening to quit. But I think the huge commonality we all share is the love of the game. We have that love of the game and guess what? We always come up.”

Asked how long she’ll continue curling, she replied, “I don’t know, I think we’re looking at 85 at least, right Irene?”

“Oh at least,” Ormrod replied. “My mom was still out there throwing rocks until she was 88, I believe…. And I think I’m going to do the same thing.”

A rather curious word – “SOBB” – adorned the back of Ormrod’s navy blue jacket.

The name of a curling team, perhaps? Or a tournament from year’s past?

No, not that at all. It’s an acronym for a group of her friends, many of whom are curlers.

It stands for Society of Bossy Bitches, Ormrod said with a cheeky smile and a laugh.

“This is all from curling.”

Meanwhile, the Cloverdale Curling Club’s annual awards night is coming up on Saturday, April 1. The evening includes cocktails, dinner and dancing. Visit cloverdalecurlingclub.ca for more information on the club, located at 6150 176th St.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com