What's this? The Manitoba team that's about to represent Canada at the women's world championship just lost to a team of juniors?
Ste. Anne's Alyssa Vandepoele, who will still be playing junior next year, upset Jennifer Jones 5-4 in an extra end in a quarterfinal of the Dekalb SuperSpiel in Morris on Monday. And she did not throw the game just because Jill Officer's niece, Kristin MacCuish, plays second for Vandepoele.
"The competitor in me feels it's tough to take but they're a good team," said Officer, the Canada second. "But we wanted to finish it off and we're pretty hard on ourselves. We could have played a bit better."
But, how in the world will Jones be able to win the worlds if she cannot beat a junior squad?
"It's just what can happen in curling," Officer suggested. "I remember, we beat Sandra Schmirler when we (Jones and Officer) were the 1994 Canadian junior champs and she was the world champion, and it didn't seem to affect her career."
The late Schmirler, however, would not win another Canadian crown until 1997.
"There has been a longer than usual delay between the Scotties and the Worlds so maybe we got some bad stuff out," Officer said.
China's Bingyu Wang was hard-pressed to beat Vandepoele 4-3 in the semifinal.
"They're (Vandepoele) a good team," Officer said. "And I'm really proud of my niece for playing at the competitive level and playing the same position as me. Some people say it's like she's my kid and not my sister's."
The women's Worlds start in Swift Current, Sask., this Saturday.
MIXED NICHE: The man once known as 'Night Train' seems to have found his niche in Mixed. Selkirk's Dave Boehmer will defend his provincial title at the Mixed provincial playdowns in Stonewall next week.
"You're still competitive but don't get too pumped up," said Boehmer, who lost the SuperSpiel men's final to Mike McEwen in Morris. "But it's kind of my game, too, because there's so many rocks in play and I like to throw the big heater. So, I get to throw it lots -- way more than in men's now -- so maybe that was my game all along."
In fact, Boehmer finally made it to his first national championship after winning his first Mixed provincial title in his first try last year.
"Some people call it a Baby Buffalo," Boehmer said with a laugh. "It was disappointing (to lose a tie-breaker at the nationals) but it was also satisfying to get a Buffalo."
Boehmer figures that his team of third Kerri Flett, second Kyle Einarson and new lead Jasmine Fedorchuk (replacing Tamara Bauknecht) has a great chance to repeat.
"We played our zone and we played fantastic so, I'm hoping we're going to give it a good run this year," he said.
PLAYERS INVITE: Reid Carruthers spared at two different Grand Slam events for two different teams earlier this year. Now, with Carruthers injured (knee), the rest of his West St. Paul squad has been invited to enter the Slam's Players' Championship in Dawson Creek, B.C., April 13-18. Third Chris Galbraith spent the weekend trying to get Ed Elias to fill in for Carruthers.
ANNUAL SHUFFLE: A lot of new lineups were being tested in Morris. Some of the more interesting ones had former Manitoba champ Maureen Bonar playing third for Kim Link and Calleen Neufeld skipping her own squad. Sam Owen has replaced Neufeld at third for Karen Porritt. Kari White is now at third for Holly Scott and Joelle Brown has a new front end.
KUDOS: To the curler.com's Resby Coutts, who not only qualified for the Masters provincials at lead for Norm Magnusson but helped that Fort Rouge foursome post an impressive 4-3 record there.
COMING UP: Baldur's Rob Ramage and Brandon's Linda Van Daele will represent Manitoba at the national seniors in Ottawa, March 20-27.