Aged 95 and still a threat on the ice

The sport of curling attracts people from all walks of life and can be played by people young and old. In February 2017 I talked to one curler who didn’t let his age get in the way of his competitive spirit.

A long-time curler from Rossland Curling Club was recognized by his club for his dedication to the sport.

Julie Bilesky, aged 95, who lives in Trail, is not only still playing the game, he is also winning. In recent years his name has been on a club trophy five times — playing with a different team each time.

Bilesky, whose grandson is 2013 BC Men’s champion Andrew Bilesky, was a steel fabricator for Teck Cominco for 45 years. But he was also a local athlete. “I started curling when I finished the active sports like baseball, fastball, soccer and lacrosse,” said Bilesky.

The 95-year-old started using a stick after hip replacement surgery. During his first few games he used a crutch, like the one pictured, but he has now moved on to bigger and better things.

“I make my own stick. I started out with a crutch, and now I have made a different version. I use a hockey stick handle, part of that, and then I combine that with the broom part. So then I have a pusher and a brusher so that I only have to carry one thing.”

Curling was a big part of Kootenay life when Bilesky started curling in the late 1940s. Frenchy D’Amour lived two houses away, and was the first BC skip to lead a team to a Canadian championship win. Bilesky didn’t compete at quite that level, but once made it the BC Interior Curling Association final, an event that featured 64 teams. His games are not as competitive these days, but Bilesky still curls twice a week. “But then we’ll have a competition with the neighbouring cities, and we get a bit of extra time in,” added Bilesky.

Lloyd Joyce, who curls with Bilesky, said he was a great guy to have on the ice. “The guys love to play with him but fear when they play against him. “He is a wonderful man, his background in sports is vast, his competitiveness is unbelievable.”

In his honour, the club surprised him with a gift during a recent banquet.


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