Next stop Sochi for Kamloops rink

Local curlers win Canadian junior women's title

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
February 12, 2013 01:00 AM

There was a celebration at the Kamloops Airport on Sunday night as skip Corryn Brown's Canadian junior women's curling championship rink arrived home from Fort McMurray, Alta. That's Brown (left), with Brian Fisher, third Erin Pincott, coach Ken Brown, second Sam Fisher and lead Sydney Fraser with some of the cards and flowers they received during a warm welcome from friends, fans and supporters.

Maybe when she's in an airplane, flying over the North Pole to Sochi, Russia, it will finally sink in for Corryn Brown.

Brown, 17, is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that her rink is the Canadian junior girls curling champion. The same holds true for third Erin Pincott, second Sam Fisher and lead Sydney Fraser, who helped Brown win the title in Fort McMurray, wrapping it up with a 6-3 victory over Manitoba's Shannon Birchard on Sunday.

The victory means the Kamloops Curling Club rink will represent Canada at the world junior championships in Sochi, from Feb. 28 to March 10. Matt Dunstone of Winnipeg won the Canadian boys title on Saturday, and also will be in Sochi.

The youngest rink at the Canadian championships - each member is 17 years of age - Brown and her teammates are still a little dazed.

"It hasn't sunk in," Brown said from the Fort McMurray Airport on Monday. "We had so much paperwork to do (Sunday) night . . . we haven't thought too much about it."

The girls won't have much time to think about it. Their Russian adventure begins Feb. 23, giving them less than two weeks in their own beds before flying to Russia.

That doesn't leave much time for other things.

"We missed a week of school for this, and then in two weeks, we leave again for another three weeks," Brown said, noting that spring break will run the week after they get back. "Spring break will be good - we'll be able to catch up on schoolwork and maybe get less jet-lagged."

Brown, Pincott and Fraser are students at South Kamloops Secondary, while Fisher attends Valleyview Secondary.

This is the second national title for the Brown rink, which took gold at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax. But it's the first one that will lead to a world championship.

Brown herself is no stranger to the international stage, as she won bronze at the 2012 Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. But it will be the first time for Fisher, Fraser and Pincott.

"Feeling the Maple Leaf on your back is indescribable," Brown said, "and I can't wait until they feel it, too."

The world championships will be held in the Ice Cube Curling Center, and they will be a test run for the 2014 Olympics. The venue is located about 1.5 kilometres from the Olympic village.

Unfortunately, getting from Kamloops to Fort McMurray, like the girls' families were able to do, is a lot easier than getting from Kamloops to Russia.

This means that the rink's cheering section will be much smaller in Sochi - Brown's father, Ken, is the team's coach, so he will be there, and it sounds as though Fisher's father, Brian, also will make the trip.

But the atmosphere might be a little more hostile than it was in Fort McMurray.

"There won't be many Canadians making that trip," Corryn Brown said, "but it'll be OK."

Brown's title ends 25 years of misery for B.C. at the natonal junior women's championship. Julie Sutton's was the last B.C. rink to win it, winning in Prince Albert in 1987.

Kamloops' Sandra Plut won in Prince Albert in 1982 - coincidentally, Plut, Sandra Rainey, Leigh Fraser and Debra Fowles beat Ontario 6-3 in that final.

Brown's rink went into Sunday's final not having played a game in three days - Brown, by clinching first after pool play Thursday, went directly to the final.

Brown led 1-0 after five ends, before Birchard, who is from Winnipeg, went ahead 2-1 in the sixth. Brown came back with the decisive blow in the seventh, making a triple-knockout with her final stone to score three.

"We were down one, and we figured if we give up one, we're only down two," Brown said. "We either were going to score three, or give up one. It was a tough shot, but it was makeable."

And make it Brown did, to take a 4-2 lead. Still, with the score 5-3 in the 10th, Birchard had a chance to tie it, but missed on a double-takeout.

"It's tough, your destiny is in someone else's hands," Brown said of the game's last shot. "It's tough to watch somebody miss a shot to lose."

Still, a victory's a victory.

"I'm just so proud of the girls," Brown said.

* * *


The field is nearly set for the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men's curling championship, which is scheduled to run March 2-10 in Edmonton.

Eleven of the 12 rinks have been decided - the last, P.E.I., was delayed by weather and will be decided today or Wednesday.

The B.C. championship went to Andy Bilesky, who defeated Brent Pierce 7-4 in Parksville on Sunday in what was a matchup of two New Westminster rinks. It is Bilesky's first provincial men's title.

Also booking trips to the Brier are Kevin Martin (Alberta), Brock Virtue (Saskatchewan), Jeff Stoughton (Manitoba), Brad Jacobs (Northern Ontario), Glenn Howard (Ontario), Jamie Koe (Territories), Jean-Michel MÉnard (Quebec), James Grattan (New Brunswick), Brad Gushue (Newfoundland/Labrador) and Paul Flemming (Nova Scotia).

The 2014 Brier is scheduled to be held in Kamloops, March 1-9.

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