The winning rink from the 2020 blind curling provincials at the Kelowna Curling Club on Jan. 12. (Photo: Leslie Kim Wilson/Creative Flair Photography)

Kelowna rink crowned champion at 2020 blind curling provincials

Local curlers will help represent Team BC at the Canadian Vision Impaired Championships in 2021

The Kelowna Curling Club was host to yet another prestigious tournament this past weekend.

The province’s best blind and visually impaired curlers hurried hard to the Okanagan where three local curlers were crowned the champions, along with their two out-of-town teammates, at the West Coast Blind Curling Association provincial bonspiel.

“We’re really happy with how the tournament turned out,” said blind curler and tournament organizer Bill Mah.

It was the third time in the last 10 years that Kelowna has hosted the blind provincials with teams from Kelowna, Prince George and Vancouver competing against the champion rink. With a hybrid team of three Kelowna curlers and teammates from Vancouver and Kamloops taking the gold.

“The round-robin was great, the facilities were great and we didn’t hear any complaints so we assume everyone was happy,” joked Mah.

“It’s always a great opportunity to host and showcase the Kelowna curling scene.”

READ MORE: Blind curling provincials come to Kelowna

Kelowna’s Frank Costello, Darren Stallnecht and Brain Lechelt joined visiting teammates Vern Short and Pat Willing as the winning rink. The group has now booked a spot at the Canadian Vision Impaired Championships in Ottawa in February 2021.

Blind curling varies only slightly to the traditional rules of the sport; with a sighted guide helping the rink teammates with their approaches and deliveries.

“The fun thing is you get to curl, meet people, and expose the game of curling to the blind and visually impaired,” said Mah.

“That’s why these types of events are very important for the game.”

READ MORE: League donates $2,500 to memorial scholarship for late Kelowna Chiefs president

Mah said that these events, put on by the KCC and the Kelowna Blind Curlers group, would not be possible without the help from volunteers. Anyone who is interested in the sport or in volunteering can contact Mah at 250-878-0710.

At the provincials’ finals on Jan. 12, the Vancouver rink came second, Prince George game third and the full Kelowna team came fourth.

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