P.E.I. stick curling league gearing up for another season
'We are doing pretty good for the little old Island, we do damn good'
Stick curling — a variation of curling that has players use a stick that attaches to the handle of the curling rock — continues to gain traction in P.E.I.
"We are doing pretty good for the little old Island, we do damn good," said stick curler Bob Leard from Montague. "It's great exercise for us older guys who like to curl."
The stick allows the curler to deliver the rock from a standing position, but it doesn't make the game any easier, said Leard.
"To stick curl is just as hard as to regular curl, because as … you have to think all the way through the game. It's a two-man team and that's it. I feel that it's more of a challenge," he said.
'I got two artificial hips … but I can still curl'
Leard has been playing the game for about two decades. He turns turns 85 Wednesday and doesn't plan to quit the sport any time soon.
Although he's had some health issues, the sport allows him to stay active.
"Well I got two artificial hips, so I can't get out of the hack, can't sweep, but I can still curl."
Leard also developed Bob's stick while living in Alberta and brought them to P.E.I.
'The competitive part is a bonus'
This week, stick curling teams from Alberton, O'Leary, Cornwall and Montague all met in Montague for a one hour game.
Island curlers have had a strong contingency in the Stick Curling National Championships over the years, usually sending several two-player teams.
Leard has been to the nationals three times.
Currently, two Montague stick curlers are in Yarmouth, N.S., for the Canadian Mixed Nationals, where 14 mixed-gender teams compete from across the country.
"We have some teams that are quite competitive and we've won Maritimes championships and actually won a national championship," said Ernie Stavert, president of Stick Curling P.E.I.
"The purpose is to keep people in the game as a recreation, but the competitive part is a bonus."
More players wanted
The number of people playing the sport on P.E.I. has been increasing slowly over the years, but the numbers fluctuate year over year at the different curling clubs.
Cornwall always seems to come out on top, with the number of stick curlers increasing steadily.
Stavert hopes to see the same trend spill over to the other curling rinks, as more people choose to retire on P.E.I.
"Hopefully it will increase as people age, and try to stay active. Hopefully there's a positive future for stick curling."
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Lights go down on Charlottetown's Burke Electric after 68 years
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Electoral reform plebiscite should be honoured, says poll