Sports Curling

Rocktoberfest returns to Coldwater Curling Club

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES
Dylan Biepage, right, and Cameron Vanbodegom look down the ice as they sweep a rock during their final match at Rocktoberfest. The Coldwater boys U18 rink finished second in the bonspiel, which they co-hosted.

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES Dylan Biepage, right, and Cameron Vanbodegom look down the ice as they sweep a rock during their final match at Rocktoberfest. The Coldwater boys U18 rink finished second in the bonspiel, which they co-hosted.

If you had a hard time getting a meal in Coldwater on the weekend, blame the curlers.

Rocktoberfest returned to the Coldwater Curling Club, bringing with it 96 amateur teenage curlers alongside their families and coaches. Area hotels were low on rooms and at least one restaurant in Coldwater ran out of food.

The tournament, in its second year, is becoming a big economic driver for the Severn Township village and surrounding area.

“We bring well over 300 people to the area,” said Scott Running, a coach for the boys U18 Coldwater rink. “We’ve sent them to all the shops downtown; we make announcements all the time, ‘come see our shops.’ For the region, from that standpoint ... (we) all benefit from it.”

Bonspiels such as Rocktoberfest happen throughout Ontario on any given weekend during the fall and winter. Amateur curlers – and their families – descend on the towns and villages, spending their time and money in the communities while the curlers participate in leagues and tournaments of a rough equivalent to AAA hockey.

Rocktoberfest is a stop on the Ontario Junior Curling Tour, specifically for boys and girls under-18 teams. The inaugural event featured eight rinks on either side; this year, that number increased to 12 each, bringing 22 other rinks into town to match up with the Coldwater squads over three full days of curling.

Where recreational curling is perhaps one of the least expensive sports a child can play, competitive curling is at the opposite end of the spectrum, which is one of the reasons Rocktoberfest was born.

“To curl competitively, we have to travel; we have to find the best there is,” Running explained. “This tour is where the best there is. So, we have to travel, because there are no other stops in this area. A couple of years ago, our parents asked if there’s a way we can control costs by not travelling on a weekend.”

The cost to field a competitive rink is about $20,000 a year, Running said, most of that figure tied up in the expense of travelling to and staying at the different bonspiels on the tour circuit. At the height of the curling season, every other weekend is taken up by another trip to another town in any part of the province.

While sponsorships and fundraising can help provide equipment and extra ice time for practice, families are responsible for the remainder of the costs in helping the next generation of great Canadian curlers improve their craft.

Some of the faces who took part in Rocktoberfest could be seen on television at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts or the Tim Hortons Brier in the next half-decade or so. Until then, they’ll become the heroes of their own rinks, as the home squads always try to put their best showing in when they host. That was the case on the weekend, as the Coldwater teams each found success on the ice, making it to the final day of competition.

The girls U18 team, led by skip Julie Heittola, finished third overall, behind rinks from Richmond Hill and Parry Sound. The boys U18 squad, under skip Evan Running, finished in second place, losing in the weekend’s final to Team Goves of Oakville.

With the result, the boys are expected to place in the top five of the provincial junior curling rankings, when the next set of standings are released.

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales 



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