(L-R) Cordell Sihlis watches as Bruce Clarke and Ramona Joyes coax their rock into the four foot during their game in round robin pool play Dec. 9. Sihlis and his wife Dawn would go onto win the A-event the next day, while Clarke and Joyes would capture the B-event. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

New curling event a big hit in Ponoka

Mixed doubles bonspiel draws teams from across the province, will be added to the schedule

It was a demonstration of just how the sport of curling is adapting and how successful it could be in the future.

The Ponoka Curling Club played host over the weekend to its first ever mixed doubles bonspiel and the event could not have gone better.

Mixed doubles is relatively new to curling — having been developed in 2001 as a way to spice up an international invitational event, then adopted as a standalone competition by the World Curling Federation in 2008 — which sees a male and a female play with some slight alterations to the rules.

Sean Brake was one of the co-organizers of the bonspiel and no one was quite sure what to expect for this initial attempt.

“With it being the new Olympic curling event, we figured we would try and get a bonspiel organized to see what kind of interest there would be,” he said.

“The bonspiel was a resounding success with a great turnout. The draw had 24 teams, which is the maximum we could accommodate, and we even had a couple teams on a wait list.”

The event saw the teams compete Dec. 9 in six round-robin pools of four teams each, with the clubs re-seeded into three championship events for Sunday. The A-event was won by Tofield’s Cordell and Dawn Sihlis with the B-event taken by the junior pairing of Marcus Sawiak and Ashleigh McKinnon from Sherwood Park, while the C-event was captured by the local team of Bruce Clarke and Ramona Joyes.

Brake added there wasn’t just the usual local and area teams, but they drew pairings from around Alberta and across a range of ages.

“We had teams from Calgary, Sherwood Park and even one from Fort McMurray, which shows how enthusiastic people are about mixed doubles,” he said.

“This relatively new format involving teams of two players instead of the traditional four sounds like it would be an ideal fit for husband and wife teams, but there was a wide variety at this bonspiel. We had teams ranging in age from 12 to 60 and it was great to see eight junior teams this weekend. It just goes to show that curling has a great future.”

Other differences mixed doubles has from the normal game include only six rocks from each team are in play, one player throws the first and last stone while the other player throws the three in between. The game begins with the team having last rock, placing a stone in the four foot on the centre line behind an opposition guard stone, which is placed halfway between the hog line and the top of the rings.

Brake also stated the club is now looking at adding a mixed doubles bonspiel to its annual schedule for the future.

Adam’s Chevrolet Super League Results after the Second Week of Playoffs:

Pool A:

Sherrer – 635

Baron – 580

Lea – 505

Classic Granite Works – 380

Pool B:

Adam’s Chevrolet – 465

Brake – 335

McKelvie – 325

Stebner – 275

Pool C:

Waldren – 350

Walton – 245

Riske – 210

Richardson’s Pioneer – 145

bonspielmixed doublesPonoka Curling

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Bruce Clarke goes hard on the broom as the lone sweeper of the rock thrown by partner Ramona Joyes, one of the unique aspects of mixed doubles, during the second end of their round robin game Dec. 9. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

All six sheets at the Ponoka Curling Club were in action most of the weekend as the club held its first ever mixed doubles bonspiel, an event that will make its debut at the Winter Olympics in February. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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