The Spirit of Curling Welcomes Another Rookie to the Club
Imagine a Superbowl, but with roughly 50 teams of four. Half of the competitors are from your town. Your friends, family, even the mayor are on a quest for curling glory.
That is the Men’s Butterfly Bonspiel. Starting March 5th, this intense three day long competition is celebrating 75 years of bringing Creston and the Kootenays together. Oh, and there will be beer. Lots of it!
Budget (Spectators): Free entry to the lounge, all proceeds from drink sales go toward the Creston Curling Club
Budget (Teams): Registration is open from mid-December to December 31st yearly. Register at Crestoncurling.com
Location: The Creston and District Community Complex
Highlights: Live curling, the best drink deals in the Kootenays, Creston's largest and oldest sporting event
Trophy winner: Event A – Sponsored by Interior Brewery Workers Union
Scott Peet, Kevin Hedlund, Doug Thompson, Bryan Smithson (A Winners for the second year in a row!)
Spoiler alert! To be champions, you have to win. Over and over again. Yes, losing will eventually spell defeat, but there are so many teams playing at different levels, brackets (Events A,B,C,D,F) are formed and teams have a chance to win at their level.
There is a balance of parity that naturally forms as teams compete, but to the untrained eye watching from above in the lounge, it is utter chaos. Sweet, raucous, chaos. Did I mention the beer part?
Football players don’t join the tailgaters out in the parking lot before or after the big game. But this isn’t Football. Creston’s Butterfly Bonspiel is a celebration of curling and you will be among friends, old and new. There was a time when it was a weekend long event that ran 24 hours. Teams were pitted against each other at any given time and had to be ready. More of an Ironman challenge than a curling tournament. Thankfully, there’s a window for sleep now. It’s a spectator sport that’s fun to learn and a challenge to master. Just watching it makes you want to pick up a broom and hurry hard to sign up sheet. But that will have to wait until next season.
So you just want to watch? That’s fine! Picking up a new sport is intimidating. Especially one as precise as curling. Sure it’s easy to look at the stones in the circles and think,
“Oh if they just hit that there and, boom, take these other ones out. Easy!”
But I can tell you right now, without a doubt, that it is not easy. How do I know?
Well I tested my skills as a spare this year. Borrowing everything from shoes to a broom, I felt so out of my element. It cost me $10 as I am not a Creston Curling Club member. My teammates were a Scottish couple that now call Creston home, Callum and Heather. We were also joined by Terry, a veteran curler who was looking to join a team as well.
I stepped onto the sheet of pebbled ice and did the unthinkable. I curled a stone without asking, as no one was looking. Practice shot right?
Our teams laughed, but my stone sat comfortably in play. Game on.
I'm starting to get the hang of it... Heather could tell there was only a slim chance that my stone was actually on target.
As this was a Friday (the more casual league), we had mixed teams. Multiple generations, men and women all giving this whole curling thing a shot. Our skip, Callum, picked it up last year. He didn’t use a stabilizer to help him curl even though the rest of us did. I called it the granny stick, relying on it heavily myself. In fact, I had terrible form.
But it didn’t matter. We had fun. We were improving and our veteran player, Terry, was very helpful and encouraging.
The whole experience was the total polar opposite of joining brutally competitive online communities like League of Legends or Fortnite. It was real, nobody was 12, and everybody was supportive.
Big plus: We ended up winning that game and now I have a 100% win record. The team didn’t carry me at all. Nope. Not one bit.
Nothing but big smiles on the ice. This is a friendly place with friendly people. If you're just getting started, Fridays are your best bet.
My biggest takeaway was a deeper respect for the sport. Also, there was a sense of camaraderie as we all blamed the sheet for being too fast. Or cheering a particularly tough shot… even when they were my stones getting knocked out. That’s the beauty of the whole experience. That feeling of ‘we did it!’ followed by a cool pint of locally brewed Kokanee in the lounge is hard to beat. The beer also helps with aching shoulders after sweeping the ice over and over again.
This week, that feeling of camaraderie will grow exponentially as everybody in town gets ready to take part in Creston’s…. No, the Kootenays’, biggest, local, curling competition.
Make some friends! Get inspired to try something new. If you’re from out of town, you’ll see a tradition 75 years in the making. If you are from town, I know for a fact I’ll see you at this year's 75th Men's Butterfly Bonspiel.
The Ladies Valentines Bonspiel is much like the mens, but with costumes! This 53 year old bonspiel takes place close to Valentine's day, obviously. Again, this is a highly competitive spectator sport as all the boys in town come to cheer on their better halves. Teams spend all weekend long playing, with games starting early in the morning for some, regardless of the merry making had the previous night.
This year’s event A winners (best very best) was the Amonson Team from Castlegar.
The Senior’s Open Bonspiel. Don’t let the term “senior” fool you. These are the curlers that have kept it up the longest. The event A competitors for any Bonspiel usually come from this crowd so watch out! Last year the event was held mid November.
The following weekend, Creston held the U21 Regional Playdowns. These kids can sweep hard and their skills are only improving. Meet the future.
A new generation of curlers in the making!