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My Take on Snow Lake - Jan. 20, 2017

Long overdue recognition of extremely rare curling feat

Last January, a “Blue Moon” event took place at the Gordon M. Rupp Curling Rink. It was a curling end that everyone who has ever strapped on a slider has dreamed of … an eight-ender. It happened in the third end of a game played on sheet two, during a draw on the night of Jan. 18, 2016. It was scored by the team of skip Dennis Chrapun, third Laura Bilcowski, second Shelley Chrapun and lead Derek Chrapun against the foursome of René Gagnon, Paul Plamondon, Jennifer Plamondon and Cathy Plamondon.

Although every curler dreams of scoring an eight-ender, you won’t find many who are overly intrigued with having one scored against them. However, their opposition that night was almost as excited as the Chrapun rink. Opposing skip René Gagnon proudly posted a picture of the anomaly on Facebook after the game. It should be noted that all four members of this team were new members to the Snow Lake Curling Club, and the Plamondons were all new to the game!

For those unaware, an eight-ender, sometimes referred to as a “snowman,” is a perfect score within a single end of curling. In a curling end, both sides throw eight rocks, and an eight-ender is registered when all eight rocks from one team score points.

In a game where the goal is to remove opposition stones that are counting points and in turn score with your own, eight-enders are extremely rare and equivalent to a perfect game in baseball or bowling. Eight-enders are so rare that the Manitoba Curling Association has an eight-ender award to recognize any such end scored in the province.

That recognition finally came about on the night of Dec. 12, when Snow Lake Curling Club president Terry Hornyak presented the Chrapun team with eight-ender certificates, pins and a letter of congratulations from the Canadian Curling Association. They also received the Manitoba Curling Association (MCA) award of eight-ender crests. “The presentation was long overdue, as the paperwork submitted to the MCA was misplaced and the curling season at the Snow Lake Curling Club was delayed due to a leaking roof,” said the club’s Suzanne Kluke. 

This was the fourth-ever eight-ender scored at the Snow Lake Curling Club. 

Also of note, last year, René Gagnon was the man responsible for securing a Ryan Fry jacket signed by his entire Jacobs Olympic gold medallist team, which the club raffled off in its first yearly raffle. “Tickets are now available for this year’s raffle, first prize $500 Asham gift card, second prize a Patrik Laine Jets jersey valued at $229,” said Kluke. “This draw will take place at the resurrected men’s bonspiel Feb. 18.” After several years hosting only the ladies’ and a mixed bonspiel, the club has announced they will host a men’s bonspiel from Feb. 17-19. 

Another community occasion was marked in past weeks. It happened New Year’s Day with the Grand Reopening of Honker’s Hill.

Honker’s Hill is a local sliding hill that was constructed in 1998/99 by the Snow Lake Lions’ Club. It was named after Lion Al Saskowski. Saskowski, who passed in 2000, was a committed and well-known volunteer and a charter member of the local Lions’ Club. He was affectionately known as “Honker.” The hill is a long, steep and straight marvel that sits on Snow Lake’s access road … an easy walk, with sleigh in tow, from any area of the community. Of late, it had become unkempt and snowmobiles had taken to riding it rather than the children it was originally intended for. 

A local man, Andrew Smith, who is just new to the community, felt it was a wonderful asset with unfulfilled promise. He and a co-worker, Blair McLaughlin, took it upon themselves to organize a revitalization of the hill. With money from the Town of Snow Lake, work donated by themselves and others, as well as equipment and workers provided free of charge by Strilkiwski Contracting, they revitalized the area, fenced it off from snowmobiles, and put up proper signage.

On Sunday, Jan. 1, their hard work was rewarded by squeals of laughter and smiles on children’s faces. In addition to one of the biggest sliding parties the town has witnessed, there were hot dogs and hot chocolate for all and the Snow Lake Volunteer Fire Department put on an amazing fireworks display at day’s end. “It truly has become a fun winter place for kids of all ages,” said Fran Saskowski of her late husband’s namesake. “Loving hearts and willing hands made this possible.”