Top 5 sports stories of 2016

The Star looks back at the biggest moments in local athletics.

Jim Cotter watches a shot during the provincial curling championships

There was plenty of drama in the Nelson sports world this year. New venues opened, a nationally broadcast tournament came to town and the city’s athletes made their mark in BC and abroad.

Here’s our top five sports stories of the year.

1. Kootenay Ice, Wild relocate

Hockey in Nelson was checked into the boards with the loss of two major midget teams in August. The Kootenay Ice men’s team and the Kootenay Wild women’s team were both relocated to Trail despite local opposition to the plan. B.C. Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko said the move was made to help recruit more talent for the floundering teams, which both languished at the bottom of their respective league’s standings.

2. New Squash Club opens

Ten months of hard work finally ended with the Nelson Squash Club opening the doors on its renovated space in January.

The $50,000 added two new courts, redone ceiling and walls, as well as a new bar. More importantly, it has revitalized the sport locally. Pro player Sarfaraz Ahmed was hired in September to run the club, which has seen a spike in new members and hosted a tournament in November featuring 42 ranked players.

3. Soccer success

Nelson owned the pitch in 2016. The L.V. Rogers’ girls team capped an undefeated season with its first provincial title in 18 years in June.

Nelson Youth Soccer meanwhile sent nine teams to various provincial tournaments, highlighted by a gold medal for the under-16 girls squad. The city’s most popular sport grew to more than 1,000 participants, and may get even bigger if a plan to build an artificial turf field comes to fruition.

4. Curling steals spotlight

The biggest curling event in decades was hosted by the venerable Nelson Curling Club in February. Vernon’s Jim Cotter defeated New Westminster’s Sean Geall in the BC Men’s Curling Championship final, which was broadcast nationally by Sportsnet. The event was a major boost for the club, which is now seeking funding to install a concrete floor in an effort to grow the 43-year-old facility.

5. Savoy Lanes closes

The final pins fell at Nelson’s only bowling alley in May. Savoy Lanes was closed and subsequently dismantled to make way for the new SHARE Nelson home. The alley hadn’t had significant renovations since it was built in 1987 and struggled financially as several owners came and went. That included the Nelson Sports Council, which voted to go on hiatus for a year after handing back the Civic Arena keys to the city in May.

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