Team Richards was crowned Under-18 provincial curling champions on the weekend in Delta.
The team — which includes Courtenay’s Gracelyn Richards (skip) and Keelie Duncan of Comox (third) — beat Team Bowles of Royal City/Delta 6-3 in the final. Adam Duncan coaches the team, which also includes Grace McCusker (second) of North Vancouver and Duncan’s Carley Hardie (lead).
The tournament ran from Dec. 29-Jan. 2. The girls won five games and lost two, including a 6-5 loss to Bowles during the qualifiers.
“Winning the final was such a rewarding moment for us all,” Richards said. “We’ve worked so hard this year and I’m unbelievably proud of our team for achieving this big goal.”
Keelie Duncan said winning U18s is a dream come true.
“These past few years have been crazy for everyone,” she said. “With a couple seasons of cancellations, this year has been amazing.”
On the final shot of the semi-final game, Adam Duncan said the girls made “one of the all-time great shots in junior curling” en route to a 5-4 win over Team Wheatcroft — coached by world champion/Olympic bronze medalist Georgina Wheatcroft.
“It was the greatest shot I’ve seen live,” he said. “The girls were focused all week, and even when things didn’t go our way, they never stopped believing that this was going to be our championship.”
So far this season, Team Richards has reached five finals and won four events.
As provincial champions, the girls were set to represent B.C. at the U18 nationals next month in Timmins, Ont. The event, however, has been postponed due to COVID. Curling Canada is looking for a new host venue, outside of Ontario.
On the boys side at U18 provincials, skip Chris Parkinson and lead Graham Lee of the Comox Valley Curling Club (CVCC) played on the team that reached the final. Jackson Nowak (third) of Qualicum and Christian Klein-Beekman of Parksville (second) were also on the team.
The boys cruised to the final after winning their first four games, including a 4-2 win over eventual champion Team Fenton of Royal City/Cloverdale. Team Parkinson coach Bob Lee figures this win was probably the team’s best game of the year.
In Sunday’s final, the Fenton rink gained a big early lead, but Team Parkinson gained their composure and fought back in an 8-5 loss. The skip had a difficult shot for three on his last rock, which would have tied the game had he made it.
Parkinson and company were set to join Team Richards at nationals because the two B.C. runners up each receive entry to the championships.
“This was an amazing experience for the boys,” said Lee, noting the team is excited about the upcoming U21 provincials at home. “They will be the youngest team in that event and a definite underdog, but are looking to gain some more experience in that type of event.”
The CVCC hosts the 2022 B.C. Junior (U21) Curling Championships Jan. 25-30. Team Richards will be among the competitors.