MCA Bonspiel numbers decline

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Although there has been another slight drop in entries for this year's MCA Bonspiel, it is not nearly as dramatic as you may have been led to believe.

A total of 434 teams have entered the 119th edition, which is nine fewer than last year and 14 short of the desired 448.

"To get that many when numbers for other competitions are dwindling is pretty good," MCA executive director Ian Staniloff said yesterday. "It's still a huge bonspiel, and I still think it would be the biggest one-event bonspiel."

If most have entered as five-men teams, that would mean more than 2,000 curlers will participate.

"That's still a huge accomplishment to get that many," said Staniloff, who admitted he had been concerned about a bigger dropoff earlier in the week. "Is it that we're so built on traditions and numbers that we start to panic when we get fewer entries? Sure, I'd like to have it full, but gone are the days when 600 teams play in it."

The spiel, which starts Jan. 18, offers six Safeway Select berths this year, as Jeff Stoughton's team was ineligible to get the exemption that goes to the defending champ after half of his foursome left.

BITER: Although Arnold Asham confirmed that he has been approached by orphaned members of the Thistle Curling Club (which burned down last summer) about the possibility of taking over Asham Arena, he is still awaiting a formal offer. But Asham is willing to sell the club he had saved from certain death two years ago.


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