Skins game ends six-year run at Casino Rama
Midland’s Glenn Howard, left and his all-star rink of, from left to right, second Carter Rycroft, lead Steve Gould and third John Morris topped the four-team field ay the The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game, presented by Pinty’s, over the weekend at Casino Rama and took home a purse of $51,500 for their efforts. It also marked the end of a six-year run for the event at the casino. Howard, who curls out of the Coldwater & District Curling Club, also captured the Skins title in 2001. ANIL MUNGAL The Curling News
It only seemed fitting that local favourite Glenn Howard of Midland would throw the final rock of what will be the final Skins game at Casino Rama on Sunday.
The defending World and Canadian champion, who curls out of the Coldwater & District Curling Club, came up short in a draw to the button against Alberta’s Kevin Koe for the final Skin of the weekend, but the title had already been secured by Howard and his all-star rink of third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft and lead Steve Gould.
It was the sixth time the event, now known as The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game, was held in the Entertainment Centre at Casino Rama, but the final one as it was announced on Friday that the event was the last.
“It’s been a wonderful six years of curling excitement and we have plenty of memories, but we like to keep things fresh and offer our patrons a variety of events,” said Casino Rama’s media relations manager Jenna Hunter, who gave for an example the recent Toronto Raptors intra-squad basketball game.
“We hosted a number of boxing cards and switched to MMA matches after that,” said Hunter, of the on-going and ever-changing events at the Entertainment Centre.
The Skins format, featuring some of the world’s top curlers competing for cash awards, has been running in various locations and venues since 1986 and moved to Casino Rama in what turned out to be a six-year run in 2007 (there was no event in 2008 because of the Olympics).
“We hope to keep the event going and are looking at a number of options for next year and going forward,” said TSN’s director of communications Greg McIsaac “We should have an announcement soon.”
This year, in a new twist, the players were chosen by the fans in an on-line voting system and then a draft was held between the four competing skips.
Despite losing the final carry-over Skin of $13,000 to Koe with the draw to the button after the eighth end, Howard won the match with a purse of $22,000 to Koe’s $20,000.
Howard’s rink also took home an additional $15,000 for the final game victory giving the quartet a two-game total of $51,500.
It was the second Skins game win for Howard who also took home bragging rights in 2001.
In semi-final action on Saturday, Howard downed former Olympic champion Kevin Martin of Alberta by out-drawing Martin to the button to claim the final Skin and $14,500 in prize money. Martin pocketed $6,500 for his efforts.
In the opening match of the day, Koe out-duelled Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, pocketing $17,500 to Stoughton’s $3,500. Koe also won the draw to the button challenge prior to the competition, which netted him an additional $1,000.
The Koe rink included Northern Ontario’s B.J. Neufeld at third, Howard’s second Brent Laing from Horseshoe Valley and Martin’s lead, Ben Hebert.
The Martin rink included Manitoba’s Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers of Manitoba and Howard’s lead, Craig Savill from Ottawa.
The Stoughton foursome included Koe’s third Pat Simmons, Martin’s second Marc Kennedy and Koe’s lead Nolan Thiessen.
Martin remains the Skins game all-time leader in prize money, having won a record $426,350. Howard’s career Skins game winnings now total $221,400.