Gay curling teams duke it out in Vancouver for national championships and Pac Rim Cup

Gay women and men from across Canada are congregating in Vancouver this weekend—with brooms. But no, they're not witches. And they're not obsessive-compulsive clean freaks either. They're curlers.

Sixteen teams from cities across the nation (as well as one from San Francisco) are competing at the 2012 Pac Rim Cup Bonspiel and the HSBC Canadian Gay Curling Nationals, which are being held simultaneously.

Things kick off today and run until Sunday (February 5), and it's all happening at the Vancouver Curling Club at Hillcrest Centre (4575 Clancy Loranger Way).

"It's a great chance to come out and check out a fantastic sport, especially for the gay and lesbian community," Pacific Rim Curling League board member Trevor Boudreau said by phone, "particularly for the lesbian community because it's a sport where you can interact with people who you don't normally get a chance to interact with and a sport that's not dominated by strength, it's dominated by skill."

The general public is welcome to attend the event-packed weekend.

In spite of the seriousness of the competition on the ice, organizers haven't lost sight of their sense of humour. There's plenty of a gay time to be had by all. Including old farts.

In fact, each team will be selecting one player for the Old Farts Draw to the Button Competition. After the welcome ceremony tonight (6 p.m.), each curler throws one stone (or rock) down the sheet (of ice), without any sweeping from teammates. If it stops in the house (or the coloured target at the end of the sheet), the stone's distance from the button (the centre of the target) is recorded. The eight curlers with stones closest to the button will then compete in a final competition (held at 3:30 p.m. on February 5). The winner will win the title of Old Fart. Now there's an accolade to brag about.

And since Vancouver was named third worst-dressed city for our penchant for yoga pants, why not celebrate it? Consequently, the Hot Butt Contest: Yoga Pant Edition will have participants showing off how fab their buns of steel look in Lululemons. It'll be held after the Welcome Ceremony at the BienVANue party (which will celebrate all things Vancouver, including the other thing that is as ubiquitous here as yoga pants: sushi) at 6:30 p.m. at the Last Draw Lounge.

Other festivities include clubbing at the Junction Pub, a West Coast barbecue, an awards dinner at the Boathouse restaurant at English Bay, and a final shindig at 1181.

Oh, and there's curling too. Several curling draws will be held on Saturday and Sunday (February 4 and 5) with the finals on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

A complete itinerary with full details can be found on the PRCL website.

Other upcoming gay Canadian bonspiels (or curling tournaments) this month include one in Montreal (February 10 to 12) and Winnipeg (February 17 to 19).

If watching the events makes you want to get involved, check out their website or Facebook page. For Canadian residents outside Vancouver, you can also check the Gay Curling in Canada website for links to leagues and clubs across the country.

"We'd love to have people to come out and check out the sport and hopefully check us out next year when we start running our registration and our pre-registration events in the summer," Boudreau said.

You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT.

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