A chance to give out medals for curling at the BC Winter Games in Penticton next month is taking a local chef full circle.
When he was just 16, Stewart Glynes was on the sheet himself competing in the games and winning a gold medal with his rink.
“I still have a poster at home, and I still have the medal and everything. I showed it to my kids when I heard that we were hosting it again,” said Glynes, who grew up on the coast, and came to Penticton in 1990, representing Zone 2.
“When we heard, a little over a year ago, right away my memories clicked in to when I was competing. And my thoughts went to wow, that was 25 years ago,” said Glynes, who moved to Penticton six years ago, and now owns the Bench Market along with his wife Heather.
Glynes said he will definitely be down at the Penticton curling club to watch some of the BC Winter Games competition, and he has volunteered to be an official, spending last weekend going through Level 1 and 2 training.
But the Glynes’ commitment to the games doesn’t stop with watching and volunteering. The Bench Market is also a Friend of the Games, showing their support for the event, which takes place from Feb. 25-28 at a variety of venues.
Part of that sponsorship is being able to hand out the medals at curling. Glynes remembers receiving his own gold medal, which started a career in curling lasting more than a decade.
“I did go to three national championships when I was a junior, and then went on to the World Curling Tour, where I travelled around Western Canada competing,” said Glynes. “All the stuff you see on TV now, I used to be involved in that. That was the 1990s for me, all the way up to 2001, when my career kind of took over.”
Glynes has clear memories of those 1990 games, which were the first provincial championships for juvenile curlers. Prior to that, the highest a young curler could aspire to was to win their regional play downs, which Glynes had done.
The 1990 BC Winter Games were Glynes’ first opportunity to compete with other curlers from around the province.
“Right away, I wanted to go on that,” he said. “The Okanagan was someplace I might have been to a couple of times in my life. It was a great opportunity to go and meet other people, other people your age that are playing your sport all around the province.”
His memories start with the bus ride, starting in Langley and then stopping at town after town on the way to Penticton.
“We just kept picking up other competitors along the way. Every stop, we would run into another curling team from another city, or figure skaters, or other competitors. By the time we got to Penticton, after a good six or seven hour bus ride, we all knew each other when we got off the bus,” said Glynes. “The camaraderie was amazing.”
By the time the long bus trip ended in Penticton, the athletes were herded straight off to the opening ceremonies. Coming from the coast, Glynes said they weren’t quite prepared for the weather, with nighttime temperatures dropping below freezing.
“We still had our west coast clothes on; we had spring jackets. We were definitely not dressed for the conditions,” said Glynes. “Here we are standing in the parking lot with hundreds of other athletes — all waiting to get marched into Memorial Arena—and it is just absolutely freezing, doing jumping jacks and blowing into our hands and just trying to stay warm.”
Glynes joked that his mother, who coached his team also has a fond memory, of sleeping on the floor in a classroom in the Shatford Centre.
The 1990 Winter Games wasn’t the last time Glynes visited Penticton. Over the years Glynes visited for a number of competitions, especially with his teammate and friend Andrew Paul.
“I golfed a lot. My best friend Andrew and I, we were golfers in the summertime, curlers in the wintertime,” said Glynes. “We would come up here for golf tournaments in the Okanagan. I remember a few weekends sleeping on the beach, because the hotels were full.”
Now a full-time chef Glynes said he is fulfilling a dream running the Bench Market with wife Heather.
“It just has a warm feeling to it. And then to be in a position to give back to the community at all kinds of events, let alone the ones that I have a history in,” said Glynes. “The Winter Games is really kind of something that catapulted the next 11 years of my life and probably still has a huge influence on who I am today and what I do.”