The Chyzen one? Jr. girls hope so

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

The reigning queen has moved on, leaving behind a crown for the taking in junior curling.

With Maria Bushell now plying her trade at a higher level, it's up to fellow Calgarian Nadine Chyz to keep Alberta's junior women's title in the city.

Chyz is Calgary's last hope this year, and that's just the kind of pressure the 18-year-old skip has been working to overcome in her pursuit to capture the crown beginning Thursday in Camrose.

Good thing she's got plenty of star power in her corner.

Chyz and her team of third Rebecca Pattison, second Kristina Hadden and lead Kimberly Anderson have flourished with the backing of world-champion coach JD Lind and Canadian champ Shannon Kleibrink.

"I think they're looking awesome," said Lind, of coaching the Calgary Curling Club rink. "I'm so impressed with them. They've become confident, and the amount of work they've put in has been incredible. Not only have they made the commitment, but they've gone that extra mile.

"Hopefully, that'll come to fruition this week."

Chyz says Lind has been a unifying catalyst for a rink that has battled itself in years past.

The former coach of world junior champ Charley Thomas has helped the young female foursome deal with the mental aspect of the sport, especially, with the emotional part of competition.

Another advantage for the juniors was having played a bonspiel game earlier this year against fellow Calgarian Kleibrink. The youngsters then sat down with the star skip and her rinkmates to take in important advice.

"They told us what they saw on the ice and what to improve," said Chyz, who boasts experience from playing in the 2007 Canada Winter Games and in the 2007 juvenile provincials. "They told us about communication on the ice and not to be worried about pressure."

Since then, Chyz and Co. have showed solid consistency, building up to their B-final victory at southerns three weeks ago at Calgary's Acadia Recreation Complex. It was sweet success a year after losing the A semifinal, the B final and the C final -- in which they blew a three-point lead -- at southerns.

"It's handling the pressure -- they know they have the skill to do it," Lind said. "The first sign of struggle they have to show they can handle. It's just a matter of staying calm.

"Talking to them about last year when they had big leads and kinda collapsed, it was like the team just shut down. I took that and gave them some direction. You don't want that pressure to snowball and hand the other teams games."

Among the contenders is Lethbridge's Casey Scheidegger, the A-event champ at southerns and a skip with a resume that includes wins over Chyz in last year's A semifinal and B final at southerns.

Lethbridge's Jocelyn Peterman, who won the C event at the ARC, is the other southern representive at provincials.

"It's not like someone's always on top in junior girls," Chyz said. "It'll be who comes out and plays their 'A' game."

EXTRA ENDS

Among junior men, the south will be represented at provincials by Oyen's Riley Carroll, Sundre's Craig Bourgonje and Calgary Winter Club's Kevin Yablonski ... The road to the Brier has begun with Calgarians hoping to be playing for the national title, March 7-15 at the Saddledome. The men's districts at the Calgary Curling Club qualified eight teams for the southerns, including Calgary Curling Club's Dean Ross, the 2008 Canadian mixed king. Ross qualified via the A event, while Darren Moulding (Coaldale), Chris Schille (Calgary Winter) and Don Delair (Airdrie) won B spots and Dan Petryk (Calgary Curling) and Steve Petryk (Calgary Curling) qualified via the C side. At the districts in Black Diamond, Lloyd Hill (Calgary Curling) and Chad Dahlseide (Calgary Curling) qualified for southerns, which go Jan. 23-26 at the Glencoe Club.

LAST ROCK

The North Hill Curling Club hosts the women's southerns beginning Friday, with 19 teams vying for three provincial spots. The contenders include Calgarians Renelle Brydon, Crystal Webster, Diane Foster, Maria Bushell, Bernice Merrick, Brittany Gregor, Allison Earl, Brandi Mahaney, Deborah Puttick, Tanilla Doyle, Krista Crowther, Jackie Brett, Glenys Bakker, Kirstin Meadows and Heather Stewart.


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