First time champions crowned at Whitehorse International Bonspiel

A number of curlers finally broke through to titles at the Whitehorse Curling Club’s International Bonspiel over the weekend.

A number of curlers finally broke through to titles at the Whitehorse Curling Club’s International Bonspiel over the weekend.

All three divisions saw teams win their first A titles at the 65th annual event. A total of 34 teams competed March 24-26.

It was a long road for Laura Eby’s Whitehorse rink. The team played seven games over the weekend, winning six straight to capture the women’s A division title.

“We lost our first game so we had to work our way all the way back into the A final, which means we couldn’t lose a game,” said Eby. “We played a lot of games to get here.”

Skip Eby and teammates second Janine Peters, third Lorna Spenner and lead Tamar Vandenberghe, won the division with an 8-5 win over Peggy Dorosz’s Whitehorse rink in the final.

Team Dorosz, which included Laini Klassen, Kandice Braga and Inge Brown, played four games including the final.

“I’ve played the A final several times but I’ve never won,” said Eby. “Normally I’m in Hawaii for the international, so I haven’t played in a couple of years, but it feels great to win.”

It was a similar story for Fairbanks skip Bill Gryder. Gryder believes he’s played in the bonspiel 15 or more times since 1979 without ever winning — until Sunday.

His rink of third/vice skip Bert Mitman, second Dave Miller and lead Ethan Birkholm won the men’s A division with a 7-4 victory over Whitehorse’s Doug Hamilton in the final.

“I’m elated. In Fairbanks winning the Whitehorse international is a big deal,” said Gryder. “Not very many people from Fairbanks have done it. Dave Miller on our team, this is his second time, so he’s pretty happy too.”

Team Gryder won five out of their six games over the weekend. Their one loss came against Team Hamilton, which included Robb Andison, Don Duncan and Lee Malanchuck.

Gryder lost in the final in 2015 to a Whitehorse team led by skip Ray Mikkelsen that included Hamilton playing third.

“I had a great time. As long as we can, we’ll be back here,” said Gryder. “The four of us are all retired now, so we can do. This is one of the trips we can plan on.”

A new mixed division was included in this year’s bonspiel and a local team took the top spot.

Team Cameron, with skip Scott Cameron, went undefeated in four games to win the eight-team division, but it wasn’t smooth sailing all the way through.

“We played really well all weekend, but we got off to a slow start,” said Cameron. “We got in the hole early in all our games except this one (the final) and clawed back. So that felt pretty good to win all four games coming from behind.”

Team Cameron — third Carrie McClelland, second Troy Searson and lead Julia Ahlgren — took the title with a 6-4 win over Fairbanks’ Team McDowal, which was wearing ’70s-themed costumes all weekend. The McDowal rink included Devon McDowal, Courtney Miklos, Kate Morrison and Ethan Vanhavel.

“This final game was really tight,” said Cameron. “They had a shot for a tie (in the last end) but it just over curled for them a little bit.”

It was the second time a mixed division was included in the bonspiel. One was added 15 or 20 years ago but was not kept.

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