Carberry’s Braden Calvert delivers a stone during Wednesday’s practice at the Brandon Curling Club. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Janelle Schwindt of Minnedosa delivers a shot during Wednesday’s practice session for the Provincial Junior Curling Championships at the Brandon Curling Club. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Minnedosa’s Jennifer Curle feels a lot less pressure heading into this year’s provincial junior curling championships.
Last season, the Curle squad — which includes Gillian Lewis, Paxton Johnson, Hayley Surovy and Kaitlyn Payette — had to play for a provincial title in front of their hometown fans in Minnedosa. The stakes were even higher because it was the first time they had played at that level.
Fast forward one year and the Curle team has a lot more confidence after a successful season highlighted by a semifinal appearance in the Sun Life Junior Challenge and reaching the A-event final at last weekend’s junior bonspiel in Winnipeg. Now the team, which is 9-3 in the UCT Westman Junior Super League, hopes to ride that momentum to a solid showing at provincials, which start today at the Brandon Curling Club.
"It would be really, really nice to make playoffs, but I think that a big goal would be to win more games than we lose," said the 17-year-old skip. "We’re still pretty young. Provincials is under-21, so a lot of girls are 20. We’re still new to it so winning more games than we lose would be a big deal, and making playoffs would be really awesome."
The road won’t be easy for Curle, who went 2-5 in her pool last year. She’s in the Black Pool with top seed Seleena Kaatz as well as third seed Beth Peterson and fourth seed Rachel Burtnyk.
Things won’t be easy for Janelle Schwindt’s squad, either. The Brandon-based team — which features Kylee Calvert, Jordyn Dickinson, Dori-Anne Vince and Parker Janz — will have to go up against the likes of Winnipeggers Alyssa Vandepoele and Shannon Birchard, the second and third seeds.
Like Curle, the 20-year-old Schwindt is hoping to post a winning record, and she believes she has a chance to do that.
Schwindt is making her third appearance at provincials as a skip and she has had a busy season between skipping her junior team and playing second with Stacey Fordyce’s women’s team. Her teammates gained experience at other positions this season when Schwindt was away with Fordyce.
Schwindt believes her team is ready for the tough week, but she’s not willing to look at the big picture yet.
"We’re just kind of going one game at a time," she said. "We’re not thinking that far ahead or we’ll psyche ourselves out."
The women’s event will also feature Dauphin’s Kylin Alm.
Meanwhile, Braden Calvert’s Carberry foursome of Shayne MacGranachan, Cody Chatham and Jefferey Steen is the lone Westman-based squad at the junior men’s event.
Calvert skipped a team at provincials two years ago and is happy to be back after a one-year absence. His pool features the likes of Junior Challenge champion Matt Dunstone and Daniel Birchard, who are ranked second and third, respectively, at provincials.
Calvert does hold one ace up his sleeve, since he knows the ice really well. His team practises at the Brandon club every week and curls there in the Westman Junior Super League as well.
"It’s a good opportunity for us," he said. "We know the ice a little better than everyone else. It will be nice playing in front of our home crowd."
The junior men’s field also features a team skipped by Austin Mustard, who’s from Carberry but curls out of Portage la Prairie.
The event kicks of today at 8 a.m., with the finals set for Monday at 1:30 p.m.
SAFEWAY TICKETS: Passes for the Safeway Championship, which will be held from Feb. 6-10 at Neepawa’s Yellowhead Centre, are on sale for $100. They can be purchased in Neepawa at Gill and Schmall Agencies and Harris Pharmacy as well as Brandon’s Dick Agencies, Carberry’s HMS Agencies, Gladstone’s Foxon Agencies and Minnedosa Insurance Services.
EXTRA ENDS:The Brandon masters men’s bonspiel starts on Tuesday at both clubs in the Wheat City … Today is the deadline to register for the Brandon Men’s Bonspiel, which runs from Jan. 10-13. Contact Brett Hargreaves at 204-725-2908 …Neepawa’s women’s bonspiel is set for Jan. 11-13. Entry fee is $120. Contact Sheila Cook at 204-573-8233 … Minnedosa will host a mixed bonspiel from Jan. 18-20. The entry fee is $100. Call Carol Taylor at 204-867-2245 … Brandon’s women’s bonspiel will also run from Jan. 18-20, with the entry fee of $180 per team, or $100 for junior squads. Contact Darlene McPherson at 204-728-5211 … Wawanesa will host a men’s bonspiel from Jan. 25-27 and a women’s bonspiel Feb. 1-3. Contact Trent Cullen about either event at 204-824-2638 … Neepawa’s men’s cash bonspiel will run Jan. 25-27. Cost is $140. Contact Jack Follows at 204-476-5327 … Minnedosa’s masters bonspiel is slated for Jan. 26-27. The entry fee is $100 per team. Call Bob Manns at 204-867-2241, Ray Orr at 204-867-2211 or Mel Harvey at 204-867-2909.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 3, 2013