The first ever Best of the West U30 curling competition went this weekend in Saskatoon, and by all accounts, the spiel lived up to its mission of producing a thrilling competitive environment for curlers mounting the rungs in the sport.
Top young squads, many of whom have appeared on national stages such as the Scotties, the Brier, the Olympic Trials, stepped onto the ice at Saskatoon’s Nutana Curling Club to showcase their skills on the men’s, women’s and doubles’ sides.
Rylan Kleiter’s squad, the Saskatoon foursome keeping alive the tradition of Norway’s brightly coloured trousers, claimed top spot in this weekend's inaugural best of the West U30 curling competition, defeating Manitoba's Colton Lott 9-8 in an extra end. Kleiter’s team of third Joshua Mattern, second Trevor Johnson and lead Matthieu Taillon, opened with hammer and traded singles with Lott in the first two.
After taking a 4-1 lead in the third, Lott bounced back with a deuce to narrow the gap. Lott forced Kleiter to a single in four and then tied the game at 5 apiece in the fifth. It was all out in the seventh and eight ends as the two teams exchanged three point ends leading to the extra.
Kleiter is one of the architects of the event along with Matt Dunstone and Wadena’s Dustin Mikush.
On the women’s side, Corryn Brown, with her team of Erin Pincott at third, Rachel Erickson at second and Samantha Fisher at lead, took their final with a nose hit against two in the final end. Brown and Manitoba’s Beth Peterson found themselves tied at 1 all after four ends. In the fifth, Brown found an opening to score 3 and take a 4-1 lead. After a single point in six and a steal in 7, Peterson found herself down only one heading home. Brown made no mistakes in the final end with the hit securing the win.
Meanwhile the top men’s double team squared off against the top women’s doubles in their final.
Foam Lake’s Garret Springer teamed up with Sam Wills of Regina to beat Kelsey Rocque and Danielle Schmeiman in their Sunday morning matchup. The event provided a new angle, experimenting with a six rock format instead of the standard doubles five rocks. A dramatic three pointer scored by Rocque/Schmeiman tied the game and sent it into an extra end, but Springer/Wills would not be denied.
The success of the event will likely ensure that it becomes a mainstay in competitive curling seasons to come.