Not only did the number of rinks increase from 12 to 18 for last weekend’s EBA Mixed Bonspiel at the Whitehorse Curling Club, but a newly implemented scoring system allowed the Yukon Engineering rink, slotted in the bottom D pool, to win the bonspiel.
“Our last game was a really good game,” said Yukon Engineering member Maureen Birckel, speaking of her rink’s 7-3 win over the Sarah Kolton rink. “Just evenly matched teams and it was just really close.”
Yukon Engineering competed in last year’s mixed bonspiel, finishing sixth. Other rink members included skip Gary Birckel, Lorraine Stick, who threw third, and lead Sylvian Lessard.
“Our skip came through for us many times,” she added, speaking of husband Gary.
The new scoring format is designed to level the playing field among the competing rinks.
Before the start of the bonspiel, all rinks were ranked and split into four different pools. With the exception of a couple games between C and D pool rinks that played each other, they would play for points exclusively against others from within the same pool.
This way, a less skilled rink in the C or D pool had an equal chance of winning as a premier rink in the A pool.
It worked well.
“A rather interesting thing happened when we started using this (points system),” said Dave Thompson, president of the curling club. “It didn’t originate here, but someone in Scotland found out we were doing it, so (club vice-president) Clarence Jack was e-mailed from Scotland asking for more information about the scoring.”
The new system also incorporates an innovative points system.
Rinks received a point for each end they won and two more for each victory. (Teams that tied were each awarded one point.)
With four matches, each with eight ends, a rink’s maximum score was 40.
Because points are awarded for winning ends, theoretically a team could lose all their matches and still not finish last.
“We do that with our ladies’ bonspiel and we do that with our men’s bonspiel,” explained Thompson.
“Last year we tried this with the men’s bonspiel and we doubled the number of rinks,” said Thompson. “We went from 16 to 32 … and (the scoring) was part of the reason.
“The whole idea of this bonspiel is not competition, it’s participation and having fun. So yes, we give out prizes and so forth, but we want people to have fun.”
The prizes, awarded to the top 10 rinks, included toaster ovens, books, winter safety kits and workbenches.
The top three rinks also received engraved beer glasses.
The bonspiel was not just a chance for some curlers to throw some granite, the event was also a fundraiser for the United Way. It raised just under $6000 for the charity organization.
Inspired by a golf tournament that raised money for the Special Olympics, local curling phenom James Buyck worked to get a new sponsor for the event and establish ties with the United Way.
“I work for EBA Engineering … and I talked my boss Richard (Trimble) into sponsoring the event,” said Buyck, who acted as liaison between the United Way and the curling club.
“(EBA) was a corporate affiliate with the United Way, and I thought, ‘This is great, I could tie the fundraiser part (into a) bonspiel.’
“We had a two-fold (purpose)in that we want to raise money for United Way, first and foremost, and then also to draw new members to the club and get more participation out of our event. So that was the goal behind it,” added Buyck, who has twice competed at the Brier and is hoping for a third time this year in Calgary.
Other fundraising initiatives included a donations bin, 50/50 draws and a toonie toss, which is basically like curling with toonies on a tiny scale.
“We think it’s important that we reach out to the community, get known in the community and help out some of these groups as much as we can,” said Thompson. “We have Special Olympics curling every Saturday morning, but we don’t charge them anything. They just come in here and the organizers let them do that.
“And that’s a direction that we want to go more into.”