Kamloops home to national champion curlers
Corryn Brown ended a quarter-century of frustration for B.C. at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships.
Brown’s Kamloops team defeated Manitoba’s Shannon Birchard (Winnipeg) 6-3 on Sunday night (Feb. 10) at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre in the women’s gold-medal game and booked a spot at the world junior championships, which run from Feb. 28 to March 10 in Sochi, Russia.
“It feels incredible,” Brown said.
“It hasn’t really sunk in too much right now. But, it’s just unbelievable. Going to Russia is going to be incredible and having the Maple Leaf on our back is going to be even better.”
It was B.C.’s first victory since 1987 at Prince Albert, Sask., when Julie Sutton (Skinner) won her second-straight Canadian title (she played third a year earlier for her sister Jodie).
It was the fourth gold medal for a B.C. team at the event, and second for a Kamloops entry. Sandra Plut won in 1982 at Winnipeg.
The Brown rink — skip Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Sam Fisher and lead Sydney Fraser, all of whom are 17 — curls out of Kamloops Curling Club. Ken Brown, Corryn’s father, is the coach.
“I could not be more proud of these girls.”
It will be Brown’s second chance to wear the Maple Leaf overseas.
In 2012, she won a bronze medal with the Canadian mixed team (skipped by Thomas Scoffin, who lost the men’s final here on Saturday) at the inaugural Youth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
“I just can’t wait for these girls to experience this for themselves,” Brown said.
The win on Sunday marked the second time the Brown rink has won national gold.
The same lineup captured first at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.
It was a tight first five ends on Sunday.
B.C. took a 1-0 lead with a single point in the fourth end when Brown made an open hit while looking at three Manitoba counters.
In the sixth, though, Birchard, 18, was able to make a cold draw to the four-foot to score two and take her first lead of the game.
Team B.C. answered right back in the seventh end, when Brown made a spectacular triple-takeout to score three and take a 4-2 lead.
“We were fortunate enough to have that set up and we thought the worst we can do if I miss it is give up one,” Brown said.
“So, we thought the benefits outweighed the risks. We tried and ended up making it.”
The B.C. champs continued pressuring in the eighth end.
Birchard was looking at five B.C. rocks in the rings, but coolly drew to bite a piece of the button and score one, cutting the B.C. lead to 4-3.
Brown made an open hit for a single in the ninth to restore her two-point lead going into the 10th end.
In the 10th, Birchard had a runback double takeout to score two and force an extra end, but the raised rock jammed, giving B.C. a steal and the victory.
“There was just so much moving at once and then all of a sudden ours stopped just outside of the eight-foot and we knew we won it,” Brown said.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know that we did enough to pull out that win in the last end.”
B.C.’s victory ended a three-year run in which the same province had swept both the men’s and women’s gold medals. Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone won the men’s final on Saturday.
It was the second-straight year Birchard has finished second at junior nationals.
She, along with lead Mariah Mondor, lost the final of last year’s Canadian Juniors to Alberta’s Jocelyn Peterman in Napanee, Ont.
“It’s definitely heartbreaking,” Birchard said.
“Coming back into this, it was a way better final than last year. Just a couple missed shots here and there that really killed us.”
The 2013 silver-medal Manitoba team was rounded out by third Nicole Sigvaldason, second Sheyna Andries and coach Bruce Birchard.
“They’re a great team and they’re going to represent the country really well in Sochi,” Birchard said of the Brown rink.
Brown was named a first-team all star on Friday, Feb. 8, at a tournament awards banquet, while Fraser received a fair-play award.
Two New Brunswick players who competed in Fort McMurray have been named alternates for the Canadian teams in Sochi.
Josh Barry will accompany Dunstone’s men’s team, while Cathlia Ward will be with Brown’s women’s team.
The World Juniors in Sochi will serve as a test event for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Canada has won a leading 17 world junior men’s titles since 1975 and eight women’s crowns (one behind Scotland) since 1988.
The last Canadian teams to win world junior titles were skipped by Saskatchewan’s Marliese Kasner (Miller) in 2003 in Flims, Switzerland, and by Bottcher last year.
— Story courtesy Al Cameron, curling.ca