New curlers bring opportunities to Port Moody rink

If you didn’t know there was a curling rink at the Port Moody recreation complex, you will.

That’s because the six sheets of pebbled ice are about to become very busy as the Port Moody Curling Club, that was founded in 1975, balloons its membership with the absorption of players from the Coquitlam Curling Club after their rink at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex was closed last spring. The additional players means there will be more than 600 curlers trooping into the facility this season.

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Wayne Petrie, PMCC’s president, said it’s been a busy summer working with the displaced Coquitlam curlers to create new leagues and schedule ice time. But rather than being a burden, the expansion has created new opportunities for Port Moody to step up its curling game.

An injection of funding from the city of Coquitlam that came with that city’s curlers has allowed the Port Moody club to hire its first manager, Michelle Hunt, and bring in the expertise of ice maker, Mark Merklinger, of the renowned Merklinger family of ice makers that have created ice for big time competitions like the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Brier and last year’s world championship, which was held in the renowned curling hotbed of Las Vegas.

“Hopefully the ice will be awesome,” Petrie said of Merklinger’s local effort, which will be ready in time for a Learn to Curl session and open house on Saturday.

Petrie said the ice will be especially busy this season, as the number of leagues at the Port Moody facility grows from six to at least 16, along with an expanded junior program to develop up-and-coming young curlers, and a new partnership with Special Olympics.

There will also be more bonspiels at the club, as the Coquitlam curlers — now called the Coquitlam Curling Association — organize some of their own events.

“There’s been lots of meetings,” Petrie said of the integration process.

But amidst all the changes, the collegial vibe has remained a constant, said Lorri Farquharson Petrie, PMCC’s treasurer.

“We’re all curlers,” she said.

The Port Moody Curling Club’s open house will be held in its upstairs lounge, from 5 to 9 p.m., on Saturday. It will be preceded by a Learn to Curl clinic from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Registration for the clinic, which is for prospective players aged 16 and over, is $25 and can be done through the city's website.

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