Second Tyrel Griffith, right, with skip Jim Cotter of Rink Cotter from Vernon Curling Club practising on the ice at the Parksville Curling Club Wednesday (Jan. 31) prior to the opening draw for the 2018 belairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championship. — Lauren Collins photo

Second Tyrel Griffith, right, with skip Jim Cotter of Rink Cotter from Vernon Curling Club practising on the ice at the Parksville Curling Club Wednesday (Jan. 31) prior to the opening draw for the 2018 belairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championship. — Lauren Collins photo

Parksville Curling Club hosting 2018 BC championships this week

Team Cotter back to defend provincial title

Twelve curling teams from across the province kicked off play in Parksville Wednesday, seeking a chance to advance to the Brier in Saskatchewan next month.

The Parksville Curling Club is hosting the 2018 belairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championship through Sunday, Feb. 4. The field four-time provincial championship winner Team Cotter of Vernon.

Skip Jim Cotter will be joined by third Catlin Schneider, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky.

Cotter is without regular skip John Morris of Calgary, who will be representing Canada in the mixed doubles curling at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea with Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg.

Cotter said he hopes not having Morris it won’t affect how the team plays this weekend.

“We know we’ve got to go out and make a ton of shots and play extremely well,” said Cotter, who threw final stones for the Morris rink.

Despite winning the provincials the last four years, Cotter said, there is no pressure going in. Cotter also said he wasn’t nervous about any specific teams going in.

“I don’t think you really focus in on anybody. You can’t control what other people do; you can only control what you do,” Cotter said. “We play a lot of these guys all the time and they’re all great players and good teams… With something like this, you’ve got to play your best.”

Brian Onushko, who is in charge of media for the Parksville club, said this weekend is good opportunity for people to watch curling and find out more about the sport before the Olympics begin South Korea Feb. 9.

“There will be lots of coverage on curling (at the Olympics), and this is a chance, if you’ve never watched it live or you’ve never seen the game, to come down here and do that.”

Four matches at the provincial championships in Parksville will be televised by Shaw TV on the local channel and for streaming. The televised games are: Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Tickets are $5 at the door for each draw, or spectators may purchase a full event pass for $45, available at the curling club concession and at Save-On-Foods in Parksville. Passes may be purchased or ordered online, through links at www.parksvillecurling.com.

—with files from Vernon Morningstar