The first Red River Valley Stick Spiel is underway this afternoon at Curl Morris, with no fewer than five past national or provincial champion teams included in the 21-team field.

Three Canadian Champion teams include the current Canadian champions Fort Rouge curlers Norm Magnusson & Resby Coutts, Killarney’s Tom & Rae Campbell (2018), and Jim Rouse & Ross McMillan from Warren-Marquette (2015). St. Vital’s Warren Johnson (who won in 2012 with Earl Stephenson) and Carman’s Charlie McCullough (who won in 2010 with Ken Horton) will also compete in Morris.

Two competing teams have also won past Manitoba Stick Championships. Gwen Smith & Lynne Rehbein (East St. Paul) won the Manitoba Women’s title in 2020 while Ken & Shirley Strand (St.Vital) won the Manitoba Open title in 2018. Ross McMillan, in 2019, and Warren Johnson, in both 2017 and 2012) were members of Manitoba champion teams.

The competition will feature three seven team pools playing a six-game round robin Friday and Saturday, followed by an eight team playoff Sunday. Highlight challengers include Darren & Darrell Beach, the 2022 Canadian finalists from Regina and Canadian National Wheelchair team member Jamie Anseeuw, who will partner with fellow wheelchair-curler Mark Wherrett, representing Assiniboine Memorial.

Manitoba clubs represented in the event include Assiniboine Memorial, Carman, East St. Paul, Fort Rouge, Killarney, Marquette, Springfield, Stonewall, St. Vital, Warren, along with teams from the host Curl Morris.

Total prize value is over $1,500, including an entry in the Manitoba 2-person Stick Curling Championship to be played in Morris in February.

Two-person stick curling is one of the developments in the continuing evolution of different forms of the sport of curling. Established 20+ years ago, mainly as a social-recreational outlet for older curlers, interest in a more competitive stream is occurring parallel with unique Mixed Doubles and Wheelchair Curling competitions.

The Red River Valley Stick Spiel will be played in the “Open” format which is common and popular in this of the sport. Billed as gender, age and ability inclusive, Open 2-Person Stick events include Women, Men & Mixed teams, wheelchair and able-bodied curlers, and curlers of any age.