While the Campbell River Firefighters Curling Team is obviously adept at fighting fires, they’re also getting used to fighting their way through the provincial curling championships and representing B.C. on the national stage.
Led by skip Dean Thulin, the team lost early in the provincial championships in Chilliwack last month, but rebounded and went on to win six straight games to take the tournament and earn the right to represent the province in Mississauga at the end of March.
“We ended up having to neat Brad Clark’s team twice in the final,” Thulin says.
Clark’s squad, which curls out of Saanich, has traditionally been one of the Campbell River team’s major barriers to claiming the provincial title.
“He’s the nemesis,” Thulin says with a laugh. “Brad’s won it 11 times, but in any given year there are about six to eight teams that have a chance.”
But this year, as it has been for the three previous ones, has belonged to Campbell River.
“We actually set kind of a record by winning Provincials this year,” Thulin says. “There have been a couple of teams that have won it three times in a row before, but we’re the first team to win it four times in a row, which is pretty cool.”
That consistency, Thulin says, comes from knowing your teammates. He, Ken Dawson, Mike Caton and Rob Robinson have been curling together for a long time.
“You get used to each other,” Thulin says. “You need to know how the other guys throw and what’s going to happen with the rock when it leaves their hand, especially for me when I’m standing down in the house calling shots – I need to know what to expect from the guys when I’m making decisions.”
Thulin is not only returning to the National Championship as a curler for the eighth time this year, he’s going for his first event as the Canadian Firefighters Curling Association Vice President, too, so he’s also busy looking after making sure all the teams have on-ice uniforms and getting together team pictures for the website and brochures, get everyone registered, etc.
“It’s mainly a bunch of administrative stuff,” Thulin says, “but I’m honoured to have been elected to the role at last year’s tournament.”
Last Friday, the team held their “Beer and Burger” fundraiser at the curling rink, which raised $550 to help them on their way, but they also received a special gift from another group of curlers.
“I’d really like to give a special thanks to the Campbell River 50+ Curling League, who gave us a $500 donation, as well,” Thulin says.
That donation was made all the more special because it was presented by Jude McFarlane, whose husband Rick was a long-time member of the team before he died of leukemia in 2014. McFarlane, Thulin says, is who got him into curling initially, and the team dedicates all of their tournament appearances to him.
As far as the team’s chances at the National Championship, Thulin says while it’s always a tight tournament, “if we play like we did at the Provincials, there’s no reason we can’t come home with a gold medal.”
Anyone interested in following the team’s progress throughout the tournament can follow along online at cffca.ca