A small village, about two hours east of Edmonton, has already earned some distinction in the curling world for being the place where Kevin Martin – arguably the sport’s greatest player – threw his first rocks.
But now, years later, Lougheed, Alta. is once again generating some buzz in the world of brooms and rocks; this time for a team of curlers whose version of ‘hurry hard’ is perhaps a little slower than it was for Martin.
The Highway 13 Old-Stars is one of the teams taking part in a bonspiel held at the village rink in the first week of February.
They say experience is invaluable in terms of playing a good end, and the Old-Stars certainly dominate the house in that regard. Three of the four members are 90 years old: Don Cookson of Lougheed, Don Manning of Amisk, and Bob Hanrahan of Daysland.
“I’ve been curling since 1948. This one’s a bit more special because all of us are old eh? Except for Gordy here,” Cookson, the team’s leader, said with a chuckle.
Seventy-year-old Gord Pennycook is the youngster who rounds out the lineup.
“It’s an honour actually to curl with these guys,” Pennycook said. “At their age… (to) still be able to come out and do it and to be competitive.”
“I think it’s great,” Manning said. “We have good times and visit with each other and curl.”
They might be in the extra ends of their athletic adventures, but the Old-Stars are actually curling together, as a team, for the first time.
The team’s trio of 90-year-olds first met on a different type of ice surface: a hockey rink. The men first fired pucks with one another in the old Highway 13 league back in 1946 but back then, they weren’t playing together as a team.
“We had a few battles on the ice, against each other,” Hanrahan said. “We still battle, but friendlier.”
For Cookson, the on-ice reunion was an experience in and of itself, but there was another reason this small town Alberta bonspiel was close to his heart. His Highway 13 Old-Stars opened the Lougheed Bonspiel against his grandson Todd and four of his great grandsons.
And while these seniors are still sweeping in a lot of solid shots, they admit they’re not quite as fast as they used to be.
But their competitive instincts haven’t faded away.
“You always try to win,” Cookson said with a smile. “That’s why you keep going.”
With files from Kevin Karius
© 2016 Shaw Media