Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ordinary curling champions

by Elaine Dagg-Jackson

VICTORIA - We’re seeing some inspiring performances from some amazing athletes at this 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Along with the champions of the day like Team Jennifer Jones are the stars of tomorrow, like Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche, Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton, Ontario’s Krista McCarville and others who are wearing their provincial colours here in Victoria.

Grace McInnes, a Scotties rookie who plays third for BC’s Marla Mallett, has shown poise and focus all week. And of course Yukon/NWT’s stunning defeat over Team Canada last night was a bright moment in the career of Kerry Galusha (and she won again this morning, too).

My eyes were focused behind the sheet last night, watching the young curlers from the Victoria Curling Club who were experiencing their very first live Scotties. It reminded me of the year 2000, when I took my then-12-year-old daughter Steph to her first STOH in Prince George. Steph got the chance to watch BC’s Kelley Law win five sudden-death games to become the Canadian champions.

What was unique about this is that in that same season, Steph and I played with Law third Julie Skinner in the good ol’ Tuesday night ladies league at the Victoria Curling Club. And at that moment, Steph realized that ordinary people can become champions.

Now 22, Steph has participated at six national championships (five Juniors and one Mixed) and even travelled with Law to the 2007 Scotties in Lethbridge as the team Alternate.

Time will tell how this 2009 Scotties imagery will inspire my young friends from the VCC.

Back to the games. Although the crowd has not been quite as big as organizers hoped early this week, that is sure to change as we approach the weekend. Meanwhile, those who are here at the Save on Foods Memorial Arena are showing their true colours.

BC, Canada and Manitoba have large contingents supporting their teams, but one of the most colourful is the Alberta family members who are their supporting Tam Bernard each game, and showing us just how far ordinary guys will go to support their gals.

On the ice things are getting exciting with team BC pulling into sole possession of first place yesterday (they’re 7-1 now) and some crucial games for those with two or three losses coming up.

The teams that find a way to get a little better each day are the ones who will find themselves in the playoffs later in the week. Building confidence and momentum is critical to winning a championship, and a number of the women are demonstrating tremendous poise under the pressure of this tournament.

As my friend Jay Tuson (BC third, 2001 Brier) commented last night in the Heartstop Lounge: “when the jackets come off you know things are heating up out there!”

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