Thursday, 12 January 2012 11:58

Top men’s curlers coming to iplex in Swift Current

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Curling fans can look forward to some good rock throwing in Swift Current at the Men’s Southern Tankard Playdowns from Jan. 19-22.

The four-day event, which is hosted by the Swift Current Curling Club (SCCC) at the Credit Union iplex, will determine the five teams to advance from the south to the 2012 Provincial Tankard in Assiniboia Feb. 1- 5.

Clayton Wicks is the chairperson of the SCCC’s organizing committee for the event. The club is not new to hosting events of this calibre and this is certainly a prestigious event.

“It’s part of the climbing ladder to try and represent your province,” he said.

Sixteen teams will participate in the playdown, which will follow a triple knockout format.

“If you lose three games, you’re out,” he said. “As you lose you start dropping down. If you win your first four games you’ll qualify. And that will be the quickest.”

Many regions, including the Swift Current area Region 1, will hold playdowns this weekend to determine the teams for the Southern Tankard. All four teams in the Region 1 playdown are from Swift Current, which will ensure local fans will have two teams to cheer for at the Tankard.

Wicks is the skip of one of the Swift Current teams aiming for a spot at the Southern Tankard. The other local skips are Max Kirkpatrick, Dean James and Rod Quintin.

Wicks qualified twice before for southern playdowns. In 2010, he was in Weyburn for the seniors and he went to Estevan in 2009 for the men’s.

“The other teams don’t miss,” he said about the level of play. “You still get misses, but even the misses are probably still what I’ll call a half-shot. So mentally it’s a lot more fatiguing just because it’s a tougher chess match.”

In addition to being a good experience, he said it is still fun.

“Without question it’s serious, but there’s always fellowship afterwards,” he mentioned. “It’s just a different level of fun. It may not appear like you’re having fun, and some games aren’t fun, but it’s no different than any other sport as you get into the more competitive part of it.”

In addition to supporting the local teams, he is hoping people will come out to support the event. Event passes are $35, day passes are $15 and an evening draw pass is $10.

“We need people to watch,” he said. “We’re bringing people into the city, we’re using a facility and we need spectators. If we’ve got spectators it’s no problem getting sponsors.”

He emphasized it becomes increasingly difficult to host events without spectator support.

“We need to get people to support events when they come to town and I don’t care if it’s curling or hockey or rodeo. If we don’t get people out to watch them they’re going to quit coming because the clubs won’t be able to afford it.”

The club’s ice maker Jayson Braaten will not be doing anything special to prepare the ice for the Southern Tankard.

“We won’t do anything more than normal maintenance,” Wicks said. “There’s standards, but we’re doing them all the time. We’ve got probably one of the best ice makers in the province anyway, so I don’t think they’re too worried about it. They do a facilities inspection before the playdown starts.”

As part of the club’s annual maintenance schedule, the ice received some treatment during the Christmas break.

“They shave it off and get it more level so the ice is a little straighter,” he explained. “They work on it a bit so it gets a little faster, it gets a little keener.”

In addition to the teams that will qualify at the Southern Playdown in Swift Current from Jan. 19-22, five teams will qualify for the Provincial Tankard at the Northern Playdown in Nipawin during the same weekend. Another six teams have already qualified for the Provincial Tankard through their performances in other championships.

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