For the last 20 years I have participated in a unique fundraising curling bonspiel held every February in Winnipeg.
It is the Ironman Outdoor Curling Bonspiel and the monies raised are donated to the Manitoba Heart & Stroke Foundation. It is a bonspiel born from tragedy when a group of friends gathered after one of the friends lost a family member to a sudden heart attack. The friends wanted to do something to help raise funds for an association that helps people recover from heart attacks, helps fund research into the causes of heart attacks and ways to prevent them and survive them.
I have participated in this event for almost all of the 20 years ( I did miss a couple of years because of other commitment – I only missed them because the dates overlapped and I could not change the plans my family had). The Bonspiel is a 3 day event held in February OUTDOORS on the Red or Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. We have had to change locations for the bonspiel depending on how the ice has frozen for a particular year.
Why? You ask? Because outdoor river ice does it’s own thing each year and we, the curlers must adapt to the ice… it does not adapt to us. It is a fun bonspiel held in Winnipeg during the month of February and the hearty curlers must adapt to whatever “Mother Nature” throws at us for weather each and every year.
One year we curling in an evening game where the temperature with the wind chill was -50 below!! Yep… it was cold! But we dressed for it, put “hand warmers” in our boots and mitts and headed out on the mighty river ice where we curled against the other teams, the weather, and the ICE!! Yes…in no other bonspiel that I have ever curled in had the ice play such a crazy part in determining who will win!!
We played a game on an end sheet of ice one year where both teams, 8 players could NOT get a curling rock in the house. The ice was angled so sharply toward the river bank that all the rocks would head down the sheet of ice after being released and they would end up sliding right into the same area of snow along the bank. Two teams, 8 players, 16 rocks and not one could get a rock in the house!!! Our skip called our team for a “huddle”. He said, “Just listen to me and do what I say… don’t question me… I think I have it figured out… I am going to stand on the sheet of ice beside us. I am going to put my broom down and I want you to aim at it, but THROW THE OPPOSITE TURN to what you would normally throw. We answered…”BUT…” . “No”, he said, “JUST DO WHAT I SAID…throw the OPPOSITE turn”. We did what he said…after all, he was the SKIP!! The rock thrown headed down the ice, hit the area where it would have slid into the bank but kept going and landed ON THE BUTTON!!! We had it figured out an WON the game!!
Another year that we were playing in the bonspiel we were scheduled to play in an early evening game. We were all in the same vehicle driving down a the road on our way to play the game. I looked out the passenger window at a spot where there was a break in the trees. It was early evening around 5 pm. I looked across the river at the sky and there it was… AN OMEN that this day was meant to be a curling day. There was a cloud in the sky that was the shape of a CURLING Rock!! I knew it was going to be a good night for us. I managed to get my phone out and snapped a picture that I have included!