The stories have stood the test of time.
The tales will never lose their colour, but are they accurate?
“I guess it depends on which stories,” laughed the subject in question, Paul Gowsell, following his 10-2 defeat of Rob Armitage of Red Deer in the C-event final of the Southern Alberta Curling Association senior men’s playdowns Monday at the Pidherney Centre.
The Calgary native captured two Canadian and world junior men’s titles in the mid to late ’70s, and Gowsell skipped a fun-loving foursome to the 1980 Brier at Calgary, where he finished with an 8-3 record and lost to Al Hackner in a semifinal.
Gowsell, now 58, never got back to the Brier, but he and his ‘mates excelled on the cashspiel circuit, traveling from town to town in a ‘party’ van. In one game, according to legend, his rink ordered and devoured a pizza during a game, and his opponent’s final stone picked on an olive from the pie and cost him the game.
Gowsell, who back in his early competitive years sported long hair and a beard and was seldom without his plaid pants, admitted there’s some truth to the tales.
“Absolutely. We were young and we had fun,” he said.
“Sometimes we’d pay our entry fee after we had qualified,” he added, with a chuckle. “But what the heck, the people in charge knew we weren’t going anywhere.
“We had some fun, you bet, but that’s what curling is all about. I think the game has lost a bit of that. In the old days, if you didn’t go to a bonspiel and have a few drinks and B.S. with the guys from all over … that was part of it.
“These guys now, they get off the ice and they go to the gym. I wouldn’t have taken up the game if that’s what I was doing.”
Gowsell’s Airdrie-based team, consisting also of third Barry Ralph and front-enders Greg Hill and Don DeLair, was formed earlier this season and didn’t hit their peak until Sunday and Monday.
“We got better as this ‘spiel went along. It was kind of a feeling out process,” said Gowsell, whose squad suffered two losses during the weekend, both to Red Deer’s Lowell Peterman.
“It’s a good thing we didn’t play Peterman again or we wouldn’t have got this far,” added the skip.
Gowsell advanced to the C final with a 6-3 victory over Scott Hellwig of Calgary Monday morning. Armitage, meanwhile, was a 6-2 semifinal winner over Rick Hjertaas of Red Deer, who had Wilf Edgar at skip.
Gowsell cracked a three-ender in the fourth to take control of the final, then stole another point in the fifth and swiped four more in the sixth, at which time the teams shook hands.
The foursome will join A-event winner Ed Lukowich and B-event qualifier Lloyd Hill, both of Calgary, as the SACA representatives in the senior men’s provincials Feb. 17-21 at Coaldale.
Gowsell, who last competed in the senior provincials in 2010 at the Edmonton Thistle Club, has toyed with the idea of retiring from the game sooner than later.
“I think about it all the time. It’s hard to get all worked up for curling anymore,” he said. “I was pretty successful in my later teens so I’ve been doing this for a long time. It kind of wears you out after awhile.”
Once he does pack it in, he will miss one particular aspect of the slippery pastime.
“The game is the game. It’s not a bad game but the best thing about curling is all the people you meet and all the fun you have,” he said.
• The SACA senior women’s playdowns were held in conjunction with the men’s competition and Red Deer’s Heather Caseley was the last team eliminated from the six-team field.
Caseley and her supporting cast of Brenda Stickel, Barbara Wilfort and Shelley Bolin, lost 7-2 to Barb McDonald of Calgary in the C-event final Monday morning.
McDonald, Terri Loblaw of Medicine and Michelle Ewanchuk of Calgary qualified for the provincials at Coaldale.