Inexperience didn't stop a 100 Mile House rink from sweeping to a B.C. championship.
In the West Coast Blind Curling Association provincial playdown, held Friday and Saturday at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club, the 100 Mile House team proved dominant even though three of its members took up the sport just three years ago. The team -- formed by skip Jim Vinson, third Lori Fry, second Marilyn Vinson, lead Katelyn Vanderburgh and guide Joey Seiler -- won all three of its games, including an all-important final match against the host team on Saturday morning. In claiming the title, the 100 Mile House crew earned the right to represent B.C. at the 2014 nationals in Ottawa.
"The nationals, I can't really believe that part," said the 58-year-old Vinson, who has participated in blind curling for a total of eight years. "It's quite something. We were hoping to win a game or two but we didn't think we'd win all three. Our team is pretty new so for us it's pretty tricky to get this far."
Using a scoring system unique to blind curling, the 100 Mile team racked up 60 points in its three victories. Prince George finished second with 39 points and was followed by Kelowna (36) and Vancouver (21).
100 Mile House and Prince George were both in the running for the B.C. crown when they met in Saturday morning's third and final draw. Prince George -- skipped by Shane McCreery -- started the day trailing by just seven points and could have made up that ground with a strong game. But, a sharp 100 Mile House team won five of the eight ends on the way to a 20-6 victory.
Teams earn two points for every end they win, and a game victory is worth an additional 10 points.
"I'm happy for 100 Mile," McCreery said. "They played a good game. We did too -- we just had one bad end, pretty much."
Unfortunately for McCreery's team, regular third Floyd Kennedy wasn't able to play in Saturday's pivotal game because of problems with his knees. He was replaced by Caroline Markel, who was playing her first game all season. Despite the pressure of her situation, she made some good shots. But, without Kennedy in the mix, adjustments had to be made and that may have factored into the final outcome.
"I had to do a little bit more sweeping, which I usually don't do, and that kind of took me off my game," McCreery said.
The other members of the Prince George team are second Terry Pipkey, lead Gary Sandhu and guides Dennis Noonan and Norm Carne.
In blind curling, players have varying degrees of vision loss, with skips normally having the best eyesight. To help players make their shots, brooms or lights -- which serve as targets to aim at -- are held close to them as they are delivering their rocks.
Prince George entered provincials as the defending champion. Last year's title qualified the team for this year's nationals, Feb. 3-9 in Ottawa.
The 100 Mile House and P.G. rinks will both attend a Western Canadian championship in March in Regina.