Looking at the scores, a distant observer would assume that the lane was clear and unobstructed for the Daniel Wenzek
rink at the Lower Mainland men’s playdowns last week.
The curling foursome carved out a handy win in their draws to claim the first berth to next month’s provincials, beating Richmond’s Cody Tanaka team 6-2 in the A final.
But Wenzek, a Burnaby native and Douglas College grad, said while the route to the B.C.s may not have had many close battles, it was a good test.
“We played very well,” the 24-year-old said. “We always felt in control but you have to keep your foot to the pedal, and for the most part did that.”
Prior to the final, they bested the McArdle rink 10-5 and the Schneider rink 8-1.
The Wenzek rink, which calls the Royal City, Langley and Kamloops curling clubs home, continues to hone its game in preparation for a possible Canadian Brier berth in March.
That season-starting carrot remains in play, thanks to their strong showing last week. But, first things first: the foursome will enter next month’s provincials, slated for Quesnel Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, with some valuable momentum.
“(Getting to provincials) was a big goal for us,” remarked the skip. “But nothing comes easy. You have to take it step by step.”
The team includes third Jared Kolomaya, second Jordan Tardi, and lead Nicholas Meister, under the tutelage of coach Ken Brown.
That they come from different rinks – Wenzek is based at the Royal City club, Tardi and Meister from Langley, and Kolomaya and Brown hail from Kamloops – isn’t that uncommon an arrangement on today’s curling circuit. It does make full practices a rare opportunity not to waste, he noted.
“We get to practice as a team about once a month,” said Wenzek. “Us three from the Lower Mainland practice at least once a week, and other than that we get out at least a couple more times on our own.”
All are in their 20s and with some heady accomplishments at the junior level – Tardi and Meister won the 2017 Canadian junior champions, Wenzek was part of a 2014 junior national silver medal team, while Kolomaya, at 28 the eldest member, participated in the men’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in 2017. Tardi was also a member of the 2018 World junior men’s champions, with his brother Tyler’s team.
An earlier 2018 highlight was a come-from-behind win over U.S. Olympian John Shuster, scoring four in the final end, at the Canad Inns Classic in Portage la Prairie.
“It was a good experience, something that was a confidence builder for us,” he said.
A Burnaby North alumnus, Wenzek believes the chemistry and camaraderie between the four puts them in a good space heading to the provincials, which run Jan. 29 to Feb. 3.
“The season’s been real good, we’ve had a lot of successes and some disappointments but we’re coming together,” said Wenzek.
On the B.C. Men’s Curling Tour, his team finished fifth, trailing the Tyler Tardi’s rink 37.6 to 36.2. The younger Tardi’s team includes Burnaby’s Sterling Middleton.
In the ever-changing game of curling, members of both squads were once a formidable lineup on the junior men’s circuit. Wenzek, Meister, Middleton and the two Tardis were 2016 junior B.C. champions and finished third at the nationals.
Also at the Lower Mainland playdowns, Team Joanisse, based out of Golden Ears, Royal City and Victoria, won the B event final.
The foursome, featuring skip Dean Joanisse, Andrew Bilesky, Steve Kopf and Paul Cseke, knocked off Schneider 6-2 for the second ticket to the B.C.s.
The third spot was collected by Team Klymchuk of the Royal City, Kamloops and Victoria rinks. The squad – which includes Tyler Klymchuk, Corey Chester, Kyle Habkirk and Rhys Gamache – edged Schneider 7-5 for the final Lower Mainland berth.