New additions give heightened hope for Webster

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Every few months it seems a new face is changing the complexion of Crystal Webster's rink.

There's the young girls -- including newborn Bretley, five-month-old Maya and seven-month-old Lexi -- the good-luck charms for a Calgary team bidding to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

"We're Team Baby," said skip Webster, mom to Maya. "With my oldest girl, (two-year-old Reece), it's true we have an entire junior team. My two-year-old will get to skip. She likes to run the show anyway."

But the real change for Webster and Co. is the new addition at third.

Lori Olson-Johns has joined the Calgary Winter Club rink in its Olympic pursuit when third Desiree Owen stepped aside to have Bretley, who was born Oct. 9.

"It is a strange year -- not just because it's an Olympic year but because we've had that little added kink to it having to change a player," said Webster, whose team is preparing for next week's Olympic Pre-Trials in Prince George, B.C. "We only have a few events to feel ready for the pre-trials with the addition of a new third."

What Olson-Johns brings to the fold, besides baby Lexi, is much-needed experience, which could offset the need for the new-look rink to find quick chemistry.

"We consider ourselves incredibly lucky, because Lori brings a lot of things to our team in terms of experience," said Webster of her passionate and sharp-shooting new third who represented Alberta at the 2005 and 2006 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

"She played with Cathy King for many years and has ultimately more experience at big events than anyone else on our team. So we're really trying to twist this to be a positive as opposed to being a real challenge for us."

So far, so good.

The Webster clan is gelling nicely, with a campaign that's seen them post a solid 13-6 record, good enough for $4,800 and the 26th ranking on the World Curling Tour. A trip to the semi-finals in the Twin Anchors Invitational in Vernon, B.C., in early October set them out in the right direction in search of the coveted Olympic berth.

"As much as we haven't won the big one yet, we have played in a lot of big events -- in the Canada Cup, in The Players Championship and in the provincials -- and we've beat all the top teams," said Webster, whose team -- based on their success last season -- earned the last pre-trials spot by less than one point over Marla Mallett in the CTRS Olympic qualification process. "We just have to put together the consistency required to come through a big event."

So it seems, even with the sudden changes, the Webster rink is one big happy family.

"Our team dynamics are unreal, despite the fact we have a new third," added Webster, 34. "We did a ton of work over the summer, and it's just been a natural evolution. We really acknowledge we have no time to waste. So we lay everything on the table after we play and talk about it."

EXTRA ENDS

For the third straight year, Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton won the $35,000 Colonial Square Ladies' Classic, beating Switzerland's Mirjam Ott 4-3 in this year's final. Heather Rankin finished with a 1-3 mark while fellow Calgarian Maria Bushell was 1-3 at the 32-team WCT event in Saskatoon ... Ontario's Glenn Howard beat Brier champ Kevin Martin in Sunday's 5-3 final of the $70,000 Brooks Cactus Pheasant Classic. Both Scott Egger of Brooks and Steve Petryk of Calgary failed to win a match at the Cactus Pheasant, both going 0-3.

LAST ROCK

Up next on the WCT schedule for both men and women is the Red Deer Classic, which starts Friday.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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