This weekend’s annual Skookum Cash Spiel at the Whitehorse Curling Club was bigger than ever.
Not only did the number of rinks competing in the bonspiel increase to 24 from last year’s 18, the cash prize went to $50,000 from $30,000.
“Whitehorse is getting on the map right now for the world curling tour,” said the club’s business manager, Jon Solberg. “The competition here was absolutely fierce … We had another half dozen teams here that are doing the same thing, trying to get enough points to qualify for Olympic trials spots.”
Taking the largest slice of the pie was the Schille Rink from Calgary, who walked away with $15,000 in the form of an oversized cheque after defeating Seattle’s Larway Team 6-0 in the finals.
“It didn’t go how we want it to,” said Chris Schille, who was skip and third rock for the Schille team, discussing the sixth end in which they took the game. “We threw our one in and were basically trying to keep it open, and then we were peeling the corner guard and rolled and stayed in play, so after that we kind of got into it a bit…
“We left them a tough shot for two (at the end), but got the steal again.”
Schille and teammate Charlie Thomas have competed in the bonspiel before, with Schille taking the title two years ago and Thomas, a two-time world junior champ, losing in the semis last year.
“DJ (Kidby) is from Saskatchewan, he moved to join us in Alberta this year,” said Schille, commenting on how his rink only formed this past year. “Adam (Enright’s) a longtime friend of mine who I curled with a few years back.”
“This is definitely our best placement of the year, we played really well this weekend,” said Larway’s Colin Hufman, who threw third for his rink.
“You never like to get shutout — we were basically behind by one shot for most of the game. We made a lot of nice setup shots to get back in it and score some points, and we just missed the run backs for multiple points.”
Last year’s champion rink, the Steve Waatainen Team from Kamloops, BC, fell short of repeat success, being ousted in the semis by the Schille Rink 7-6. Tied 6-6, the game went to an extra end where Schille advanced when the Waatainen rink failed to produce a triple-takeout.
“We didn’t roll it far enough,” said Jeff MacPheat of Waatainen. “(We) had to roll it another six-and-a-half inches.”
On the other side of the draw, the Persinger Rink from Fairbanks, Alaska, lost to Larway in the semis, 6-1.
“I don’t want to remember the score,” said a disappointed Greg Persinger of the Persinger Rink. “It was a bad game … It could have been closer, but a few missed shots (cost us). In a competition like this, if you miss a shot by four or five inches, it can mean the game.”
The bonspiel opened with a round robin format that ran through Thursday and Friday. Although the rinks were ranked before being divided between the pools for the round robin play, organizers did their best to spread out rinks from Whitehorse, Seattle, Alaska and BC among the four pools. Other than the Whitehorse rinks, the bonspiel saw three from Seattle, two from Fairbanks, one from Anchorage and teams from Vancouver and Nanaimo.
“We wanted to make sure that Seattle teams weren’t playing against Seattle teams, Fairbanks teams weren’t playing against Fairbanks teams and Whitehorse teams weren’t playing against all Whitehorse teams,” said Solberg.
“We think it worked out pretty well.”
Whitehorse’s junior men’s team, Yukon Engineering Services, actually defeated the Schille rink 7-5 during the round robin section of the bonspiel.
“We knew we were the underdogs so we just went out and had some fun,” said junior men’s team member Thomas Scoffin. “We made more shots than them, so we won.”
Scoffin and the rest of his rink were eliminated after the round robin having lost three of their five games.
Still, the junior men’s team will be traveling to Salmon Arm, BC, to compete in the nation’s junior curling championship held January 31 through February 8.
“He actually almost beat me two years ago when he was 12,” said Schille of Scoffin. “He’s has my number I guess.
“That’s a great young team and I expect to see them at the junior nationals for as long as they’re in juniors.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com