Lois Fowler is going for her second straight provincial senior women’s curling championship this week at the Brandon Curling Club, but she’s doing it with a different team.
Fowler has teamed up with Maureen Bonar, Cathy Gauthier and Allyson Stewart to create a squad that’s the top seed at this year’s event and looks tough to beat going into today’s opening draw at 9 a.m. While Fowler is looking at another title, she also is embracing this opportunity to play with some good friends.
"The four of us have been longtime friends, and it was a goal to play together one more time and it worked that Cathy was able to play simply because the Scotties was earlier due to the Olympics," Fowler said. "Usually she’s unable to play seniors because she’s working for TSN. When the opportunity arose, we were thrilled we were able to put this team together and have some fun and hopefully have some success."
While the Fowler foursome features some big names, they don’t have a lot of games under their belts together. They were in an event in the fall, which they won, and placed second at the Brandon Ladies’ Bonspiel without Bonar, who had other commitments. With Gauthier and Stewart living in Winnipeg, communication and individual practice times have been all the more important.
One advantage Fowler has is playing in her home club. She is looking forward to sleeping in her own bed during the event, but she knows the other 11 teams in the field will be gunning for her.
"You just have to be ready," she said. "There’s lots of good shots made and nobody’s going to lay down for us. We’ll have to work hard for every win."
The women’s field also has fourth-seed Deb Collyer from Killarney as well as Brandon’s Joyce McDougall, Hamiota’s Sandra Cowling and Souris’s Lynne Locke. The final is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Kelly Robertson’s squad looks to be the model of consistency in the senior men’s championship, which also starts today at the Brandon club.
Robertson has the same lineup that won the 2011 national crown, the 2012 provincial title and lost last year’s Manitoba final to Winnipeg’s Bob Sigurdson, who’s the top seed this year.
Robertson and Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales come in as the second seed even though they have played in only a handful of events this season. That includes the Safeway Championship, in which they went 1-2.
Robertson’s team seems to succeed even though it doesn’t play a lot and the skipper feels confident going into his first game against Brandon’s Lory Saban at 12:30 p.m.
"We feel as if we have a good chance of doing well there and maybe winning it again," said Robertson, who’s in the same group as Kelly McMechan’s Brandon team. "It would be great to do that one more time. We’re looking forward to the challenge and if we curl the way we’re capable of then we’ll be there at the end."
Pilot Mound’s Curtis McCannell and Dauphin’s Jim Todoruk are also in the senior men’s event. The men’s final will be played Monday at 1:30 p.m.
EXTRA ENDS: Wawanesa will host a mixed bonspiel from Feb. 28 to March 2. Contact Janie Beare at 204-824-2127 … Minnedosa’s men’s bonspiel will run from March 7-9.