Yablonski finally one-ups Valley boy

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

Call it a double-raise takeout for Calgary's Kevin Yablonski at the 2009 Alberta Junior Provincial Curling Championship.

By winning the junior men's crown, he exacted a measure of revenge for himself and one for other Calgary curlers against the Sluchinskis of Drayton Valley.

Yablonski scored a tight 4-2 victory over Justin Sluchinski in Sunday's provincial final a year after his team and the one skipped by fellow Calgarian Brad Chyz were unceremoniously bumped by Sluchinski and older brother Aaron in the Alberta juniors.

"We finally beat the Sluchinskis," said Yablonski, who lost last year's semifinal to skip Aaron then watched the Sluchinskis take out Chyz for the 2008 title. "This was Justin's last year (of eligibility in juniors), and we wanted to be the ones representing Alberta at nationals -- for us and for Southern Alberta and Calgary."

The victory in Camrose earns the Calgary Winter Club foursome of Yablonski, third Michael Ng, second Brad Benini and lead Derek Clark a coveted spot at the 2009 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, Jan. 31-Feb. 8 in Salmon Arm, B.C.

The men's squad will be joined at nationals by Lethbridge's Casey Scheidegger, who captured the Alberta junior women's crown alongside Yablonski with a 6-2 triumph Sunday over Nadine Chyz of the Calgary Curling Club.

"Winning nationals is my goal," said Yablonski,19. "Mostly, it was a team goal to get to nationals.

"We were definitely more focused at provincials than last year. We were thinking one game at a time, and we had no doubts in our minds we could win it, even though we dropped our first game."

The Calgary foursome, coached by Yablonski's dad Randy, shook off the opening roundrobin loss -- and another to Sluchinski, of course -- to climb out of a logjam of teams with 2-2 records and secure top spot in the standings and an important bye to the final.

"Halfway through (the roundrobin), they just had a team meeting and said, 'Somebody's gotta step up and put two wins together,' " Randy said. "They didn't lose again -- won four straight."

Added Yablonski, "Brad and I really wanted to step up because of the past and not getting there. Our two new players this year, Michael and Derek, are strong -- they're great sweepers and make good shots. They gave us a great shot at winning provincials, and we did it."

OFF TO SCOTTIES? ROGERS THAT

The women's southerns wrapped up yesterday at the North Hill Curling Club with the C final won by Cochrane's Leslie Rogers over North Hill's Brandi Mahaney. "We're one of the teams that played the most games at southerns, so maybe that gives us an advantage of being well prepared for provincials," said a smiling Rogers, whose rink of third Alli Nimik, second Teryn Hamilton and lead Lauren Turnquist counted three in the fifth end and stole four in the sixth end to seal yesteray's 11-5 win. The respective A- and B-event winners were Calgary Winter Club's Crystal Webster and Lethbridge's Megan Kirk. Webster defeated Kirk 10-6 in Saturday's A final before Kirk rebounded to edge Medicine Hat's Vickie Sjolie 10-8 in 11 ends in Sunday's B finale. All three advance to join three other south representatives, Heather Rankin, Cheryl Bernard and Shannon Kleibrink, at the 2009 Alberta Scotties, Jan. 27-Feb. 1 at the Sylvan Lake Arena. "It's good to see this many teams coming out of Calgary," said Rogers, who curled out of the north before this year and is the daughter of 1977 Saskatchewan champion Les Rogers.

EXTRA ENDS

Nadine Chyz, who was flanked by third Rebecca Pattison, second Kristina Hadden and lead Kimberly Anderson, finished the Alberta junior women's roundrobin with a 4-3 record before winning the tiebreaker and the semifinal, the latter 7-4 over Edmonton's Jessie Kaufman in Camrose ... In the senior men's districts at the Ogden Legion Curling Club, 13 of 26 rinks won qualifiying spots at the southerns, Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at the Airdrie Curling Club. Those earning slots at southerns were Dave Mayer (Acadia Recreation Complex), Harold Breckenridge (Inglewood Curling Club), Don Hier (Inglewood), Jack Flannery (Calgary Curling), Percy Dumba (Calgary Winter Club), Lloyd Hill (Calgary Curling), Rob Armitage (Red Deer), Brian Salmond (Airdrie), Doug Baird (Calgary Winter), Ken Scott (Inglewood), Lorne Goodman (Airdrie), Wayne Cox (Winter Club) and Dave Rutherford (Inglewood).

LAST ROCK

The last-chance districts on the Brier path goes this coming weekend at the Didsbury Curling Club. At least five rinks, including Calgary's Adrian Bakker, will vie for three spots at men's southerns, Jan. 23-26 at the Glencoe Curling Club. The Brier to crown the Canada's top male curlers goes March 7-15 at the Saddledome.


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