Scotties underway in Cloverdale

The B.C. Scotties curling championships get rolling at the Cloverdale Curling Club.

B.C.’s best female curlers have hit the ice in Cloverdale.

The Scotties B.C. Women’s Curling Championship roared out of the gate on Monday, with 10 teams from across the province joining the competition at the Cloverdale Curling Club. The teams are playing for the right to represent B.C. at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts – Canada’s national curling championships – next month in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Round-robin play wraps up this morning, with the final draw at 9:30, and the playoffs kick off this evening at 7 p.m. The final will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Host committee chair Sherry Russell says curling fans and team boosters have come out in force, with large groups of spectators even for the first match of the tournament.

“The crowds were incredible,” she said, “way more than we would have expected for an early-Monday-morning game.”

She expects the number of spectators to grow even larger for the playoffs this weekend.

Another impressive behind-the-scenes element is the level of community support for the tournament. Russell says organizers put the call out for volunteer assistance and they were flooded with requests to sign up.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of volunteers that stepped up for this event,” she said.

On the ice, the competition so far has been fierce. Russell says the presence of returning B.C. champ, Kelowna’s Kelly Scott, and 2002 Olympic bronze-medallist Kelley Law of New Westminster have set a high bar, but the other rinks have risen to the challenge. She singles out Prince George’s Team Fewster, the youngest rink at the B.C. Scotties, as an excellent new team.

A much-anticipated rematch of last year’s final on Tuesday ended suddenly in the eighth end.

Law made a hit for five and a 9-3 lead over Scott, prompting the defending B.C. champion to shake hands and accept her first loss at the 2011 Scotties.

Both Law and Scott had opened the tournament with two wins Monday, and along with Roselyn Craig of Duncan, were the lone unbeaten teams after the first day of play. Law never trailed, and broke a 1-1 tie by scoring three in the fifth end.

Scott stole one in the seventh to cut the gap to 4-3, but she came up short on her two shots in the eighth end, opening the door for Law to blow the game open.

Craig joined Law atop the standings with 3-0 (won-lost) records after the third draw Tuesday, as she defeated Karla Thompson of Kamloops 10-4, clinching the victory by posting four in the eighth end to bring the contest to a halt.

Kristy Lewis of Richmond moved into a third place tie with Scott at 2-1, drawing for two in the ninth and a 6-4 lead over Patti Knezevic, then running the Prince George curler out of rocks in the 10th.

Russell says the tournament will shine a light on the Cloverdale Curling Club in the community as a great source of entertainment and exercise, and she hopes the attention will provide a boost to membership levels.

“This is definitely a feather in the cap of the Cloverdale Curling Club,” she said.

Visit cloverdalereporter.com for regular updates on the tournament.

– with files from Rick Kupchuk

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