Past champions rock the house at Native Bonspiel

A tight bond between members of a curling team is important. However, if you ask the Martin Eckervogt Rink who won the A division in the 27th Yukon Native Bonspiel in Haines Junction over the weekend, they’d probably say luck is pretty important too.

A tight bond between members of a curling team is important.

However, if you ask the Martin Eckervogt Rink who won the A division in the 27th Yukon Native Bonspiel in Haines Junction over the weekend, they’d probably say luck is pretty important too.

“We had all the luck this weekend,” said skip Martin Eckervogt. “It was ridiculous. We had more luck than we actually deserved. That’s the way it is sometimes.”

Made up of curlers from the Junction and Jim Sias from Whitehorse, most of the Eckervogt Rink have been curling together for more than a decade. Although in recent years they have come up short, the win marks the fifth title at the bonspiel for the Eckervogt Rink.

Throwing first and second for the Eckervogt Rink were Marilyn Brewster and Elaine Chin.

“The front end curled really well — I’d say the girls curled really well,” said Eckervogt. “They probably were responsible for most of our wins.”

“They set up the end real well,” added Sias.

Eventually narrowed down to two undefeated teams, the Eckervogt Rink won the top division with a 7-2 win over a rink called Herb’s Hotties — seemingly renamed from Team Wabisca on the spot.

“I think it was a better game than the score indicated,” said Sias. “They just didn’t get the breaks; we got more breaks than them.”

“It sometimes all comes down to one shot in an end, which can mean a lot of points,” said Eckervogt. “They had opportunities … they just didn’t get the breaks.”

Coming into the third end tied 1-1, Hotties skip, Herb Balsam, accidentally knocked an Eckervogt rock into the house, leading to a two-point end for the champs. From there,

Eckervogt took two more in the fifth and in the sixth, prompting the capitulation of Herb’s Hotties.

“With two ends left it’s just too hard to come back in,” said Balsam, a Whitehorse resident. “They played way better than us — we ran out of gas … we just couldn’t come up with the shots.”

Still, losing in the finals is a point of pride for most of Herb’s Hotties, who never made it to a prize round after six trips to the bonspiel — and who expected a lot less.

“I’m so shocked,” said Sherry Wabisca, who throws second rock for Herb’s Hotties. “I had to phone my dad.”

“Actually we shouldn’t be here,” said Balsam. “We’ve come a long way.”

Nineteen rinks participated in the bonspiel that starts all the teams in the A division. Rinks get demoted to the B and C divisions as they pick up losses.

Burning up the division B ranks was the Gwitchiu Flames rink, who won their second straight division B title in just two years of competing.

“My team was shooting really nice,” said Flames’ skip, Ron Itsi, from Haines Junction. “They put it together.”

The Rick Jones Rink took the C division title.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com