It’s shaping up to be a big year for bowling in Campbell River, with top talent coming to town for provincial and national championships.
The BC Tenpin Federation’s provincial tournament takes place May 2 to May 5, followed by the Canadian Tenpin Federation’s national championships from Nov. 14 to Nov. 22.
The national event will be a first for Campbell River, while the last time the provincials came to town was in 2015.
There’s even more enthusiasm for the provincial tournament this time around, said bowling alley manager Skipp Parsons.
“This year it’s going to be a fair bit better, I can tell,” he said, noting that registration for the competition was nearly full just three weeks after the games were announced.
Perhaps 200 bowlers are expected to compete, he said.
The bowling alley, which saw new lanes installed in recent years, is getting another facelift in time for the events, with new flatscreen monitors being installed on the tenpin lanes.
That renovation work may disrupt regular activities on those lanes on Sunday and Monday, he said, but the five-pin lanes will be unaffected.
Crystal Lanes already enjoys a good reputation for its facilities, he said, describing them as the best on Vancouver Island and “comparable to the best bowling alleys in America.”
Campbell River is also known for producing strong bowling competitors, including professional bowler Ryan Reid, who Parsons said is the namesake for Ryan’s Pizzeria, the pizza place by the bowling alley.
Reid is expected to compete in both the provincial and national championships in Campbell River, along with bowlers from Canada’s national team.
“We’ll have bowlers here that compete at the world level,” Parsons said.
The quality of Campbell River’s bowling talent has contributed to a rivalry with the Lower Mainland, as local bowlers take home medals at major competitions across the Georgia Strait.
Those prizewinners include Brooke Rodgers, 18, who won the provincial senior girls’ championship during competitions in Coquitlam and Richmond last month.
Speaking to the Mirror on Monday, Rodgers said the victory was bittersweet because she competed against her sister, Devon Rodgers, 22, who came in second.
“That was the closest she’s come to winning it, so I felt bad about that,” she said, noting that it was Devon’s last shot at the title before aging out of the category.
Another medalist from Campbell River at the youth competition in the Lower Mainland was Ethan Belanko, who won silver in the junior boys’ competition.
Brooke Rodgers’ victory means she’ll compete with B.C.’s team at the youth national championships at the West Edmonton Mall next month.
The upcoming adult-level championships will provide good opportunities to see middle and top-tier bowlers in action, she said, noting the sport is often associated with less serious bowlers drinking beer.
“It does show you what the higher level of bowling is,” she said, in contrast to people “just the coming in, getting drunk.”
Rodgers, who studies English at North Island College and works as a “pin-chaser” at the bowling alley, meaning general bowling alley staff, said she’ll be helping out behind the scenes at the competitions.
There’s no admission fee for spectators at the two upcoming championship events, and Rodgers encouraged people to check out the sport.
“It’s totally free, just walk in the door and pull up a seat.”