Monday, 13 February 2012 13:49

Teams to clash in first Battle of the Brooms in Swift Current

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By Matthew Liebenberg
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The Swift Current Curling Club is hoping to provide an answer to one very important question – who are the better curlers, men or women?

The club is hosting their first ever Battle of the Brooms on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. It will see Kelly Wood's women team take to the ice against the men of Max Kirkpatrick's team.

To make it even more interesting the game will follow a skins format, which will require that teams score a certain number of points to win an end. A social with live music will follow the game.

Lorna Spencer, who is a member of the club's executive and the coordinator for the event, said they are hoping for a good turnout.

“It's just to have something fun going on at the curling rink, to generate a bit of interest, and to get some people into the building,” she explained.

She felt the men might have a physical advantage when it comes to sweeping harder and bringing rocks further, but that might not be enough to secure a victory.

“Their sweeping is possibly more effective but in terms of shot making, Kelly's team beat Max in the Super League,” she said. “So it can be done.”

Kirkpatrick felt the men will not be able to take anything for granted.

“They actually beat us quite badly the one time we played them,” he said. “They're a real solid team and it's going to be a pretty equal game.”

He is an experienced player who have been at southern playdowns about a dozen times and to provincials four times. This past weekend he had four straight victories at the Senior Men's Southern Playdowns in Carlyle to earn the first qualifying spot for the Senior Men's Provincial Championship in Foam Lake from Feb. 22 to 26.

But even on that front Wood will be more than a match for him, as she represented Great Britain at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. She has curled for Scotland for 10 years and she has also skipped her own team at world championships for a number of years.

Local curling fans became familiar with Woods when she came to Swift Current for the 2010 Ford World Women's Curling Championship. She played as a third for the Scotland team that lost 8-6 to Germany in the gold medal game.

Wood said the style of play at club level in Canada is different from that in Great Britain.

“Canada is fortunate to have many ice rinks and tend to have what we call swinging or more curling ice, which really makes for a more aggressive, attacking style of play,” she explained.

The result is that club level curlers in Canada is more familiar with that sort of play.

“Back in Scotland we have a history of having perhaps straighter ice on occasion,” she said. “That makes for more defensive play historically. But certainly at the national level back in Scotland we play similar games.”

She felt the Battle for the Brooms will be great for spectators because of the skins format.

“Usually the last two ends are worth higher points and things carry over,” she said. “So it makes for a fun, very aggressive, good spectator type game.”

Because the event will also be a fundraiser for the curling club's junior program, Wood is planning to donate some of her Team Great Britain or Scotland kit for a silent auction or raffle at the game.

Wood's team will consist of TeeJay Haichert, Kathy Hopfner, Connie Rayner and Sally Wiens. The members of the Kirkpatrick rink are Shawn Meachem, Chris Haichert, who will be squaring off against his wife TeeJay, and Mitch Minken.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, available at Pharmasave or at the door.

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