CLOSER BUT UNCLEAR ON THE “WHO’S CHASING BERTHS” FRONT

As I travelled the city, I encountered curling friends unseen for a couple of years – the truly important aspect of the Manitoba Open. When logical the question – IF you get to that point is your team eligible and will you accept a Viterra invitation. Not surprising, mostly NO to the first, often NO to the second.

David & Dennis Bohn playing for old times sake with Larry Solomon and a team from years past. Yes, we’re eligible – Maybe we’d go I wonder when that decision has to be made.

Trevor Loreth’s team – Not likely, other plans.

An email late yesterday afternoon about an expected POWER OUTAGE has warned everyone they can’t check the updated draws on the CurlManitoba website until after noon today – and a review of the ASHAM event situation (when last updated) is unhelpful

The semi-finals of that event will be played at noon today. The wins are not marked – but the last eight names provide little insight.

Larry Weatherburn vs Andrew Irving (Irving had already told me – no Viterra in their plans). Larry Weatherburn from Eriksdale probably travels more miles to curl than any Manitoba curler – he plays for a great love of the game, but I’d bet he’d love to be the oldest guy in the Viterra.

The Beach Boys (Winnipeg Beach) vs Keough of the Lodge – who knows!

Team TEAM (Pembina) vs Bohn (AMCC) – tough to know what to think of a team calling themselves TEAM, see above for notes on Bohn

Dawn Patrol (Merrimack Valley) vs Van Ryssel (Springfield) – Merrimack Valley is in New Hampshire, I believe, so no Viterra invitation for them. Van Ryssel (probably, but can’t be sure) a junior team tuning up for the TELUS Juniors starting Thursday. If I have the right team, they played Viterra zones so they’re eligible. Do you suppose there is any intimidation value going to juniors after winning a Viterra berth or even the bonspiel championship? BUT I don’t even know if they won last night. So we’ll check the draw later.

That last note reminds of the story from 1958-59. I wasn’t there ( I was only 10 years old) but the story goes that Jack Van Hellemond played the High School Bonspiel wearing the Brier Purple Heart he had won the season before when he lost the Brier final with Terry Braunstein. That could be intimidating!.

(FRIDAY Late update) MANITOBA OPEN ‘SPIEL NOT QUITE AT THE “WHO’S CHASING BERTHS” STAGE …. The Manitoba Open Spiel got underway Thursday evening and has been running all day today – a few glitches no doubt but the clubs are full or partly full, at least, depending upon the game schedule as the “draw-room” tries to fairly share the games among the participating clubs. That itself is no small challenge.

Prepping for the provincial Masters in Thompson – the guys in the matching grey jackets (l-r) Gord MacKay, John Norget, Terry Vopni, Hilton Wood (Pembina) – Too good for us Friday afternoon!

I thought it time to sign-on here at thecurler.com! I have been posting through these first two days on Instagram (thecurlerdotcom) and facebook (thecurler). This afternoon, however, one of my regular readers asked if I had quit updating here.

No, I have not – its is just a difference in my approach here compared to those other two more immediate outlets.

In my social media feeds I have talked abut Caesars and about two pretty good teams who beat us today in an average of five ends each game – and about the team last evening who we caught by surprise in an 8th end win.

This space is reserved mostly for the more traditional curling sports coverage of the bonspiel – who is chasing the Viterra Championship berths.

Young guys not eligible for the Viterra (l-r) Andrew Irving, Brad Van Walleghem, Geoff Lang, Roy Janz. Too good for us Friday morning!

There are three spots to fill in Neepawa. Until sometime Sunday, that story won’t begin to really develop.

And there are increasingly interesting challenges to this reporting. A big one is the new trend for teams to self-identify in some strange-but-fun way. For example is a team named SNOWFLAKE & THE OUTTURNS likely to be chasing a Viterra berth. My instinct is that you’d say – not likely.

However, what if I told you the Snowflake (at least I assume he is the Snowflake) is Scott Furevick – at one time a pretty competitive provincial men’s level guy who also had Manitoba Senior Men’s appearances before he moved to BC. Now do you wonder if he is just here for fun or is he chasing a berth? In this case, I know that his Fort Rouge team, including President Erik Wallace, confirmed eligibility before the start of play – just in case. (Scott would be eligible as a qualified import and I suspect also as a birthright player).

A team representing the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto – maybe Viterra eligible on birthright status. (l-r) Stephane Audette, Jay Lagarde, Paul Devigne, Stephane Simard. Probably also too god for us but we surprised them for our first, so far only, win.

Too early to worry about it however, as they played an Original 16 event game Friday late against another team I suspect is interested in a Viterra berth – Trevor Loreth’s Granite team. These guys made a deep run at the provincial men’s a few years back – before the won the Club Champions Championship. I say I suspect they would want a Viterra berth – but I don’t know.

I thought Andrew Irving would probably be interested in a berth so I asked when we played them early Friday – a good team with championship credentials. Nope – not interested this year – we can’t go if we did win a berth.

You might look at the draw and say – Micheal Coutts, what about him. As a dad but also an observer I can tell you these guys are good enough – a team like them is often one of the teams that wins a berth through the bonspiel. They are decent club curlers and there is always a team that just gets hot this week. They are one of maybe 100 similar teams in the spiel – but at some point you have to ask – are they eligible? They are – right up to the moment the lead has to leave Sunday afternoon for a work commitment and dad joins the team throwing with a stick. I don’t hurt their chances of winning – it is just that the stick automatically makes them ineligible…..and please don’t read that negatively – I absolutely agree with that policy!

My point should be obvious by now – there will be some bonspiel coverage here soon but first I have to figure out a few things. Like who are FAST FREDDY & THE 3 STOOGES (Granite) , ROYAL HOTEL ALUMNI (Arborg) and PCC PARALYZERS (Pembina) still alive Friday late in Original 16.

There is also a need to to confirm eligibility for such as former champion Mark Lukowich (Ft Rouge) still undefeated playing the late Friday Asham draw. Or how about Team Bohn (AMCC) – is this David/Dennis or both – the Bohn name hasn’t been high profile in recent years but it is a name to automatically register in the Viterra berth discussion – if in fact it is them and if in fact they are eligible.

It will be fun watching those last few draws as the 3 Viterra berths and the bonspiel event winners are determined – in the meantime, the fun is in the curling, the visits to the clubs, the visits with old curling friends we have not seen in too long!

*** Pictured in various combinations above: my team is skipped by Harold Hamilton and includes Norm Magnusson, Willie Friesen and Bill Biehl. Guys, it is a privilege to be playing with you – Resby

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