Two curlers dressed up as the easter bunny for the Crowsnest Pass’ Bunny Bonspiel from April 6 to 9 at the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex. Devin Brady photo.
Apr 12, 2023
A long-standing tradition, the Bunny Bonspiel saw the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex filled with athletes and spectators this past weekend.
This past weekend marked the 74th year of the Bunny Bonspiel. Prior to the installation of ice sheets in the Bellevue arena in 1946, curling in the Pass was played outdoors and subject to spring temperatures. 1947 saw the first Easter bonspiel with 31 rinks participating in the tournament. Fast forward to the 2023 competition, the weekend consisted of 26 men’s teams and 20 ladies teams filling up all six sheets of ice in the sports complex. Athletes arrived from all over southern Alberta and British Columbia with the goal of winning the “A” pool. This year marked a milestone for one curler and his team, Peter Kroli, who has been attending the Bunny since 1962. Along with teammates Darrel Smith, Russ Tate and Keith Comstock, the cumulative ‘Bunny’ experience on the team is 204 years. Kroli was awarded on Saturday night with a honorary lifetime membership to all future Bunny Bonspiels as well as a custom Crowsnest Curling Club jacket with the 2023 Bunny patch stitched on the front. Kroli and his teammates were bumped out of the competition after their Saturday afternoon game.
The weekend is about more than just competition, it is an opportunity to reconnect and share stories with old friends that grew up together. All weekend you could hear someone in the distance reminiscing about the past or children running freely and laughing playing hide and seek throughout the building. Everyone had a smile on their face, win or lose. Saturday night recognized the volunteer staff, event organizers and players who have gone above and beyond for the sport and prizes for the mens and women’s team that donned the best costumes. It was followed by a dinner catered by Country Encounters and concluded with a live band, ‘On the Rox’.
On Sunday afternoon the finals were played, 12 teams took to the six sheets of ice and battled it out for the winning title of their pool. In the women’s division the winning team of Pool A was Team Garlock followed by team Meger in A2, team Collenge in A3 and team Sebok in A4. In pool ‘B’ the winning team was team Dupont followed by team Draper in B2, team Capron in B3 and team Bedard in B4. Ladies C1 winners were team Smith, C2 was team Brecht, team Kubik took C3 and C4 was team Hellwig. The men’s division A1 winners were team Hellwig followed by team Edwards in A2, A3 was team Dougall and A4 was team Strandquist. In pool ‘B’ the men’s B1 winner was team Brannigan, B2 was team Cann/Kovach, B3 was held by team Meger and B4 was team Headley. In men’s pool ‘C’ the winner of C1 was team Albizatti, C2 was team Williams, C3 was team Sigvaldson and C4 was team Hunt.
With the end of the Bunny 2023 athletes raised a toast after the awards ceremony to the end of another season and cheered the winners before dispersing. The curling club will now hand the arena over to the municipality so that they can use if for the Kananaskis Pro Rodeo at the end of the month, April 28-30, 2023.