A local curling team will begin their journey to the Tim Hortons Brier curling tournament this weekend in Trail, as they get set for zone play downs.
Tom Shypitka along with Kimberley native Steve Tersmette, are teaming up with Creston curlers Josh Firman and Greg Terrill for a spiel in Trail, with two spots up for grabs for berths into provincials.
The winner of provincials wins the right to represent the province at the Briers, which will be hosted by Edmonton in March.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Tersmette, who plays second. “There’s two spots up for grabs and eight teams are going. The eight teams that are competing are there for a reason—they’re all good teams.”
The team qualified for provincials last year, and the team is hoping to clinch one of the spots again this year.
“Mostly kind of a learning experience for us last year, just gives us something to build on for this year,” Tersmette added.
The team hasn’t done a whole lot of practicing together—it’s tough to find time to meet when members are spread out between Cranbrook, Kimberley and Creston—but the four have been throwing rocks together at some cash spiels.
“We’ve done well at those,” said Shypitka, who skips the team. “We won two of those; we went to three in November, we won two and lost the third in the final.”
Curling with team members that live in other towns is nothing new to Shypitka, who travelled to Kelowna to curl with Jeff Richards.
“It seems more and more that the teams are going that way,” added Shypitka. “The days of one team being all from the same little town are almost gone now—it’s not like it used to be 10 years ago.”
Both Tersmette and Shypitka expect tough opponents in Trail, singling out Deane Hornig out of Castlegar and Tom Buchy out of Kimberley.
“I’ve probably played all of them before, in one way or another,” said Shypitka. “Probably the top guys—the Deane Hornig team from Trail—that’s the team we lost to a couple weeks ago in the final in that one cash spiel.
“…But any one of those teams can beat each other,” he added. “There’s not a really truly dominant team.”
Tersmette adds that it’s nice to have Shypitka at the helm, with his extensive competitive curling experience to draw on.
“He’s got a really good sense of the game, he’s makings sound calls,” Tersmette said. “When you’ve got a lot of confidence in your skip and you’re not worried about the strategy and the calls in the game, you just get to focus on your job—sweeping and throwing rocks—and it takes a lot of pressure off.”