Area firefighters advance to national curling championship
BY JOE PAVIA
Left to right, skip Rob Bushfield, vice Kurtis Byrd, second Cory Cooper and lead David Kemp are off to the National Hydrant Championship. (Submitted photo)
National glory is great — and it can be a whole lot of fun, too.
Four area firefighters won southern Ontario on Sunday to propel themselves to the 58th National Hydrant Championship in March in Mississauga. Augusta Township volunteer fire fighter Rob Bushfield (skip), another volunteer from North Dundas, Kurtis Byrd (vice), and two Ottawa professional firemen from Metcalfe, Cory Cooper (second) and David Kemp (lead), won the province in their first outing as a team.
Bushfield, 29, and Byrd, 25, knew each other from their junior days where they experienced many provincials in curling and other sports. This is the team’s first national championship
But just how new is the team?
“I met two of them (the front end) when they picked me up in my driveway,” said Bushfield.
Both volunteers had competed unsuccessfully the week before in the qualification process for the Ontario men’s provincials.
“I thought I would be playing front end since I was the new guy but we figured out the lineup in the truck on the way to provincials. We hit it off — the four of us,” Bushfield said.
When asked about his teammates’ ages, Bushfield rattled them off except for Kemp’s age. “I knew him so well I didn’t want to ask. That’s how well I didn’t know him.” He’s in his mid-50s. We think.
Unlike major nationals, very little is paid by organizers. There is a fundraiser planned however. The skip they defeated to make the nationals, longtime area competitor and retired firefighter, Dwayne Lowe, is hoping to raise a few thousand dollars for the team. They are asking him to be their coach and fifth man.
Lowe also has been nominated to the firefighters curling hall of fame. Fans might have seen Bushfield’s father, Ray, on TSN on Sunday as he coached Team Ontario men in the junior final.
So to what are they looking forward? “The camaraderie of the fire association is pretty well known. You try to do well but you have to experience it all. It’s more in the spirit of the game than winning it all.”
The games begin March 25 with the finals on April 1 at the Dixie club.
JUNIOR WOMEN SHINE
To have an undefeated record going into the final of the Canadian Juniors is a remarkable achievement that the young women from the Rideau club pulled off with poise. While they earned silver, they were recognized in other ways. Skip Hailey Armstrong, third Grace (Runback) Holyoke earned first team all-start accolades while Marcia Richardson was recognized at lead with the Balance Plus Fair Play award.
IN AND OUT
The Ontario Tankard and Scotties are on now in Cobourg, but many jurisdictions have declared their champions.
Scotties; Michelle Englot, Manitoba, Marla Mallett, B.C., Penny Barker, Saskatchewan, Krista McCarville, Northern Ontario, Eve Belisle, Quebec, Mary Mattatall, Nova Scotia, Melissa Adams, New Brunswick, Robyn MacPhee, PEI, Stacie Curtis, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in pre-qualifying, Kerry Galusha, Northwest Territories, Sarah Koltun, Yukon and Geneva Chislett, Nunavut.
In the Brier hunt, Brad Gushue heads to his hometown national championship in St. John’s with Jean-Michel Menard (Quebec), Jamie Murphy (Nova Scotia), Eddie MacKenzie (PEI), Jamie Koe (Northwest Territories), Craig Kochan (Yukon) and Jim Nix (Nunavut). The latter two are in the pre-qualifying. Most of the provincial championships begin Feb. 8.
The team of Gary Rowe, Mike Stachon, Brian Benning and Jesse Ruppell won the Rideau Men’s Classic on the weekend. At City View, Team Liam O’Connor and Team Stella Armstrong were Little Rocks bonspiel champs.
The 19th Crystal Heart Curling Classic begins Thursday at various clubs.
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