Senior enthusiasts from Ponoka and Bashaw curled their way to silver medals at the Canada 55 Plus Games.
Along with the curlers were two bowlers from Ponoka, Linda Seitz and Eric Anderson, who came away with silver and bronze medals, respectively. Held from Tuesday, Aug. 16 to 19 the event brought athletes from all over Canada competing for their province.
Alberta’s curling team consisted of lead Warren Bloomquist, third Stanley Carlson (from Bashaw), skip John Olson and second Larry Thompson. They curled their way through the round robin playing against six other provinces before making it to the gold medal game against Nova Scotia.
“It was a close game,” said Olson. “..right to the last end.”
The Alberta guys were down by one point coming into the eighth end with Nova Scotia having the hammer.
To secure a chance at a win, Olson needed to make a tricky shot going past and around a guard. “It rubbed a guard going in behind.”
Had the rock made it past the guard, it would have forced the other team to play their last rock.
“It just touched,” added Bloomquist. “It was so close. If John had gotten by, I think there was a really good chance we were going for an extra end.”
For Bloomquist making it to the final game was more of a fun game than stressful. The game that stood out more for him was in the round robin against Saskatchewan. Team Alberta’s strategy worked so well they only went to six ends before the game was called, thereby sending them to the finals.
“We shot the lights out in that game,” said Bloomquist. “That was the most exciting one to win that one. It guaranteed us a medal.”
Olson said they played against some rinks that curled in masters’ bonspiels, which added to the excitement of the games. In the round robin the curlers lost to Manitoba and Nova Scotia before eventually facing the latter in the finals.
“They were definitely the team to beat,” said Bloomquist.
“We wanted to push them right to the end.”
Despite the intense competition, the games were still a chance to speak with other curling teams and enjoy a hearty discussion about each end during game time and after. Alberta’s curlers had a chance to visit with the Nova Scotia team and discuss how the game went.
While the team is relatively new to playing with each other, all four knew their strengths and weaknesses and were able to play accordingly.
“We’ve curled long enough to know that you’re not going to make every shot,” said Bloomquist.
For the curlers and the bowlers it was a great opportunity to play with other athletes from around the country and visit a different part of Canada.
Anderson and Seitz have both been to the Canada 55 Plus games before, having earned medals on those occasions as well. For Anderson the trip is more than just a competition; it’s an excuse to visit other places in Canada he would not normally travel to.
Both bowlers won in 2014, this was their third trip, and they intend to compete in 2018. For bowling the challenge works that bowlers play eight games and the person with the highest points wins; second and third place are awarded based on their respective points.
Anderson recommends anyone into any kind of sports or card games consider trying out.
“One bowler there was 97 years old and she was in the 85 plus category. And she actually won,” he said.