Elite curlers face key week at home and on road
BY JOE PAVIA
Glenn Howard. (Postmedia Network file)
Local curlers could make dreams come true this week.
Winning these events gets them closer to the national stage. In Russell, beginning Wednesday, the junior provincials will eventually crown two Team Ontario rinks aiming to become national champions in Victoria, B.C.
What will it take to win? Kim Gannon will call the game and throw second for her team from the Granite club.
“A provincial is always a long week,” she says. “We got to focus on mental toughness and making sure we don’t let anything get under our skin is always very important in a week like this.”
Mac Calwell and Jordie Lyon-Hatcher join Ryan Hahn as local teams with the first two ranked in the top five in the province. On the women’s side, three area squads are in the top four in Ontario. Emma Wallingford is No. 1 followed by the Rideau’s Hailey Armstrong with Gannon at No. 4
Every team faces the same elephant — you have to be ready for every game because every game is important.
“We want to be just as ready for the final as we are for the first game and maybe even more,” Gannon said.
The junior event runs through Sunday. Admission is free to all. The finals are at Sunday at either 1 or 5 p.m., depending on tiebreakers.
Over at the RCMP club, a double knockout will determine three rinks that will advance to the Cobourg Tankard (combined with Scotties) beginning Jan. 29. At the same time other men’s teams will be fighting in Niagara Falls for the same goal. Fans in Ottawa will see the rare appearance by Glenn Howard (with Ottawa’s Dave Mathers at second) as he tries to claw his way back to the provincials.
Russell’s Bryan Cochrane and his reigning senior national team will also be trying to make it to Cobourg.
“What’s wrong with going one more time?” said Cochrane. If he makes the trip it will be No. 17. Their bye to the senior provincials has given them the opportunity to play this weekend.
Cochrane isn’t a fan of the format, though. A number of teams earned byes into the event. Those same teams even have a bye to the second round.
“They got a bye to get in and now they get a bye in the first round. Come on,” he said.
Cochrane also feels barriers are in place.
“At the same time it’s hard for new guys to break in,” he said. “I find curling in general is all stacked to the best teams. It’s hard for a new, young team to break in.
Ottawa area teams competing at RCMP are Colin Dow (who may be otherwise occupied by the delivery of his first child), Brian Lewis, Sebastien Robillard and Mike McLean skipping the Jake Higgs squad. In the Falls, Chris Gardner and Ryan McCrady from Ottawa are skipping their rinks and Jason Camm from Rockland is competing for Pat Ferris.
Mike Harris is supposed to compete here but he is stuck in the broadcast booth at the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask.
That big money tournament in Saskatchewan is important for points for Ottawa’s Lynn Kreviazuk and her Allison Flaxey team.
“It’s great that we had so much success at the beginning of the season in order to guarantee our spot in these events,” Kreviazuk said. “We are not taking them for granted though. Our main goal is to qualify directly into the Olympic trials.”
Other Ottawa area players in the Open are Rachel Homan’s team, Mat Camm (John Epping’s team) and Craig Savill (Charley Thomas’ team)
Sportsnet coverage begins Thursday with the finals on Sunday at 12 (men’s) and 4 p.m. (women’s).
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