Skip out to master winning

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Decorated curler Sandy Turner is out to master the provincial and national fields.

Never mind strong 'spiels or a well-deserved medal.

Anything short of crowning glory is just plain ... well ... silly in her mind.

"When we don't win, I call them 'silly seconds,' " said the Calgary skip, who boasts one Canadian championship but a number of national and provincial runner-up finishes on her resume.

"I should be proud of them," continued Turner of her many second-place rewards, including a silver at the 2009 Canadian Master Women Curling Championship. "But the reason I feel that way is because it's such a bitter disappointment at the end of all the hard work.

"I don't like getting silver. I'd rather have the gold."

And so it's gold or bust for Turner and her Calgary Curling Club rink at the Alberta Masters Curling Championship beginning Wednesday in High River.

The competitive skip, flanked by third Judy Carr, second Marilyn Toews and lead Betty Clarke head a seven-team field of master women vying for the provincial crown at the Highwood Curling Club.

"If you ask the others, then we're probably the favourites," Turner said.

"But Marilyn Britton's (North Hill) team has competitive experience. And (Inglewood's) Heather Paul-Scott has been to nationals, and she's curled with her lead (Linda Pratt) for a long time."

But what few other master (60-years-plus) teams in Alberta -- let alone Canada -- can boast is a championship lineup from top to bottom, such as the one Turner ices in a bid to defend her provincial title and in pursuit of a second national crown.

The first was won with skip Linda Wagner, Toews and Clarke three years ago in Hamilton.

Clarke is a national senior queen and a two-time national women's competitor. Toews has competed in four senior nationals and four master nationals, winning in the 2007 finale. And Carr, who replaces Wagner at third this year, was a 1984 Scott Tournament of Hearts participant.

"I really truly believe in us," said Turner, whose team is not just a collection of champion curlers but a group of "really good friends."

Over the last few decades, the four curlers have played on and off with each other.

"We all, as a foursome, have a lot of competitive experience compared to other teams, who may just have a couple with the type of experience we have," Turner continued.

"If we go out and curl like we can, then we have a great chance. But we have to bring our 'A' game. Everybody else wants it to, so they're not going to lie down."

EXTRA END

Rounding out the field at the master women's provincials is High River's Helen Smith, Nanton's Louise Welsch, Spruce Grove's Carole Larsen and Dorothy Trask of Fort St. John, B.C. ... The master men's provincials features Ron McCurdy (Calgary Curling Club), Rod Butcher (North Hill) and High River's Emery Boucher as south reps. The north sends Orv MacDonald (Cold Lake), Lyle Bakken (Edmonton) and Ralph Lee (Edmonton), while the Peace District qualifiers are Colin Griffith (Sexsmith) and Bernie Poloz (High Prairie) ... Debbie Foster of the Calgary Winter Club is the 2010 Alberta senior women's champion after eight straight wins at the provincials in Edmonton. Foster, with third Karen Morrison, second Barb McDonald and lead Louise Sheeran, finished 7-0 in the roundrobin to move directly into Sunday's final, where she topped Grande Prairie's Norma Huitt 9-6. Terri Loblaw (North Hill) and Debbie Miller (Okotoks) finished 2-5 and 1-6 respectively to fall shy of the playoff round ... Paul Gowsell's first foray at the senior men's provincials was a bumpy one. The decorated skip and his Calgary Winter Club team finished 1-6 in the roundrobin of the provincials. The south's other two representative rinks, headed by Red Deer skips Rob Armitage and Lowell Peterman, both finished 3-4 and shy of the playoffs. Mark Johnson played Brad Hannah, who was perfect in the roundrobin, in the final contested by two Edmonton teams ... From a field of 17 rinks, nine bantam-aged teams -- those skipped by Emily Johnson (Sundre), Geoff Nicholson (Calgary Winter), James Keats (North Hill), Spencer Higgs (Calgary Winter), Keegan Linwood (Garrison), Alex Kimber (Carstairs), Jeremy Burnett (Brooks), Haley Harbinson (Brooks) and Josh Steinbach (Brooks) -- qualified for southerns from districts held in Didsbury over the weekend.

LAST ROCK

The Bantam district B playdowns go Friday through Sunday at the Okotoks Curling Club. Included among the 15 rinks trying to qualify for the southerns are Kyler Kleibrink (Okotoks) and Tianna Yablonski (Calgary Winter).


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