The secret to the success of the Super Senior Squares Spiel is in its unique recipe that none others have yet discovered.
Held at the Cochrane Curling Centre from Nov. 22 to 26, it attracted 37 teams and 148 curlers from across the region. In its 13th year, it's risen to be the largest bonspiel in Cochrane for several years.
Gary Hawkes, who skipped his team to a win in their 65+ men's pool, says it all boils down to a few key points.
Teams are placed in squares of four with players of similar age and skill level.
"You get to play all four games with people at your level. That's an excellent thing to do, really good, because it's more fun if it's more equally balanced."
Plus, you know in advance when you'll be on the ice.
"You get to kind of pick your time to curl so it's convenient for people that have other places that they curl," says Hawkes. "You know exactly when you're going to play because it's a set pool and you get four games, and you pick ahead of time, so you can arrange your schedule."
With most bonspiels, win or lose, who don't know when or who you'll play next.
He says the high quality of the ice and facility in Cochrane is another major attraction.
"We put on a really good banquet, too. It's been kind of a trend lately that they give you a gift certificate and they don't have a big banquet. We still have a big banquet with entertainment, so it costs us a bit more, because older people like to socialize and chitchat all the time, but they really look forward to it."
Spiel architect Doug Campbell says the feedback they receive each year is appreciated.
"We got 148 curlers this week and they're all having fun," says Campbell. "We're very proud of the concept and the fact that people are really happy and enjoy this spiel."
Hawkes team is formed of players from Cochrane and Bearspaw and plays out of the Cochrane Curling Centre. They are defending provincial champions in their age group of Alberta 55+ Sports and won bronze at the national games in Kamloops in 2022.
They will be among those competing in the zone 2 qualifier for 55+ Sports in Cochrane this weekend. Earlier next year, Cochrane will also be hosting the provincial championship. Winners will qualify for the national games being hosted by Quebec City for the first time next summer.
Both the zone qualifier and provincials are being chaired by Campbell.
There are 18 teams in this weekend's zone qualifier in nine different age categories.
"We'd love to have nine teams playing in the provincials on our home turf here in Cochrane
As many as 72 teams will compete in the provincials, ranging from 55+ to 75+ open.
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