Already a world class tournament, this week’s Victoria Curling Classic is seeing a boost in competition, up to 24 teams from 16.
With many of the teams here for the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in town later this month, the Archie Browning Sports Centre is being touted as a preview of the Worlds, and rightly so.
And by no means is it a practice round, said Neil Dangerfield, skip of Victoria’s only entry in the Classic.
“There’s a $25,000 incentive to curl your best. I can’t imagine anyone is going to be not trying to win. No one worries about peaking too early,” he said.
It should, however, warm up the Victoria fans for the worlds, March 30 to April 7 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
It’s been two years since the Dangerfield rink lost in the provincial final. A regular at the Victoria Curling Classic, their best is a quarterfinal loss. This season Dangerfield and company, third Dennis Sutton, second Darren Boden and lead Glen Allen, have made the semifinals of a cash spiel in Kamloops and lost in the final of the Vancouver Island Shootout, held in Victoria back in November.
Boden is out however, on vacation, with local skip Jason Clarke playing in his place. Dangerfield’s first draw is tonight, 7:30 p.m., against Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
The Classic’s field speaks for itself. Returning are regulars, Olympic champion rink Kevin Martin and four-time world champion rink Glen Howard, among others. Also here are Norway’s 2010 Olympic silver medalist rink Thomas Ulsrud, and Scotland’s two-time world runner up rink, Tom Brewster. Again, among others.
“It’s usually a strong field and this year it’s particularly strong. But it will still come down to who’s got the hot hand, and it will come down to one or two big shots,” Dangerfield said.
“Obviously next week is the bigger prize. You can’t upstage that.”