By Dan Walton
Two of the valleys most promising young curlers, Sam Gaspar and Logan Powell, are looking to take the province by storm after assembling a foursome with two of Grand Forks best.
While the two pairs have to practise apart, theyll be coming together between Sunday, December 28th and Saturday, January 3rd to compete for the Junior Mens Provincial Curling Championship in Parksville. The winning team will represent the province as Team BC.
Sam and Logans Grand Forks counterparts are Zane Bartlett and Jordan Field. Before they reached the Junior level (ages 17 to20), they initially met as opponents in high school and Juvenile tournaments. While training at the same development camp a few months ago, the four eventually formed a team.
They like each other, understand the kind of game each other play, and theyre able to play off each others strengths. Its a really good mix of experience theyre very well rounded as a team, said coach Dave Gaspar, who is the Junior Co-ordinator for the Invermere Curling Centre.
Mr. Gaspar said they hope to keep the team together for the next two or three years, but as high school seniors, this will depend largely on their post-secondary plans.
Although Invermere punches above its weight with curlers, the community is still too small to support the best team in Canada with a fully local roster. In order for Invermeres top curlers to go far, they are often lured to bigger centres, such as Christine Keshen, an Invermere curler who won an Olympic bronze in curling in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin with Team Canada.
You wouldnt ever be able to expect to pick up four people from a town like this, and be able to compete on a world level. You have to go to the top pool, and thats what were trying to do, taking the four best players we know, Mr. Gaspar.
To advance to this years provincial championship, Team Bartlett (named after the skip) had to defeat last years qualifiers a foursome from Trail.
And those were older boys. At 17 years old, (Team Bartlett) took 19 and 20 year olds down.
In Parksville, Team Bartlett will be one of eight clubs looking to advance to the Canadian Nationals in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.
Before reaching the nationals, all eight teams at the provincial championships will face each other in a round-robin format, before eliminating four teams for the semi-final matches.
Their ability to advance to the championships demonstrates their level of competition, Mr. Gaspar said.
Getting to where they are has given them a really good chance. Theyre familiar with other competitors, and the games always seem to be close, so Im hopeful, but theyll have to play 100 per cent for the whole competition if they want to advance.
The team is currently undertaking a fundraising campaign to support their trip to Parksville. Theyve been in contact with the local service clubs and the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, as theyre hoping to raise $4,000 to help with costs. Expenses include uniforms, travel, and hospitality.
These guys have paid for some of it themselves, but its important that they do get a bit of help if they can, Mr. Gaspar said.
The team has a bank account active at Kootenay Savings called Invermere Juvenile Curling.
Deposits can be made on their behalf there, anything as small as five or ten dollars really helps out, he said.