The nation’s curling elite were on the ice in the hope of victory at the weekend.
The 2022 New Zealand Curling Championships were held in Naseby with the largest number of teams competing in more than a decade.
Competitors came with the hopes of bringing home the national title – and the opportunity to represent the country at the sport’s newest international tournament.
It was a family affair in the men’s competition, with Team Becker – made up of brothers Sean, Scott and Jimmy, with brother-in-law Dean McAuley and family friend Warren Dobson – continuing the family curling legacy and claiming the national title.
In the women’s event it was Team Smith, skipped by Jessica Smith with Bridget Becker, Holly Thompson, and Natalie Thurlow, who came out on top.
The Wendy Becker Memorial Sportsmanship Award was won by Brett Sargon and Holly Thompson.
Curling New Zealand media officer Ian Ford said various factors had boosted competitor numbers, including that the tournament was well run and accessible to curlers.
“I think there’s a bit of a realisation from players around the country that you don’t get better unless you are playing against the better players.
“There’s a reasonable number of people here playing in their first nationals – I hesitate to put an exact number on it but it is significant,” he said.
New Zealand international representative Anton Hood said mid-tournament the weekend’s competition was “tough”.
“It’s the greatest teams in New Zealand battling it out – hopefully we can come away with a result we’re happy with.”
While he was gunning for the win, his team finished third.
Selectors will now choose men’s and women’s teams to represent New Zealand at the inaugural Pan-Continental Curling Championships later this year.
The competition replaces the Pacific Asia Championships and involves teams from the Americas and Pacific-Asia.