Flying by seat of their pants

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Every time the Ralph Brust rink gets together, it's like old-home week.

Matter of fact, they only see each other when they hook up for a spiel.

"Everyone is flying in on Saturday," the Calgarian said yesterday, on his way home from Lloydminster. "The first time

I see them this year will be at the airport."

That's on their way to the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, which runs Sunday to Nov. 28 in Prince Albert, Sask.

'They' are third Karen Powell, second Ken Powell and lead Tina McDonald, who are flying in from Grande Prairie to hook up with Brust, their skip.

The group hasn't curled together since they won provincials at the Calgary Winter Club last April.

"That's the way mixed is," Brust said. "You just go there, you play and, hopefully, you play pretty well and get on a run. We have curled a lot of games together, so we have an idea of each other's tendencies and our strategy is pretty basic."

Brust noted each curler has been busy on the cashspiel circuit.

His men's foursome, skipped by Adrian Bakker, lost Sunday's C semifinal to fellow Calgarian John Morris 7-1 at the Best Western Wayside Classic in Lloydminster.

"We had two good games, one average game, two poor games," Brust said. "Playdowns start in about a month and hopefully we'll get on a good run from there but we have some work to do.

"I've been throwing a lot of rocks here the last couple of weeks and we all should be fairly well prepared (for nationals)."

Powell, who skips a women's team in the Peace Curling Association, has no doubt in the rink's ability to gel at the right time. After all, they did last spring and 10 years ago, when they earned their first trip to the nationals.

"We have good chemistry and really like each other," said Powell, who lost the Red Deer semifinal to winner Renelle Bryden of Calgary a week ago. "We think the same way, have similar styles in how we play the game. The first game might be a bit of adjustment but none of us think it will take long.

"It comes more from trusting each other. All we have to worry about is slide at the broom and throw the right weight. The rest kind of takes care of itself."

Bringing home Alberta's second straight mixed title simply would be the cat's pajamas for this bunch.

Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink capped her week at the mixed last year with a national championship.

Brust, who kicks off the week-long event against Eve Belisle of Quebec, would love to do the same but he feels no pressure representing the defending champion province.

"Well yeah, I guess we have a lot to live up to," he said, chuckling.

ON THE ROCKS: Not one of the Calgary rinks -- Bakker, Morris, Terry Meek, Darren Moulding, Greg Northcott, Mickey Pendergast and Dean Ross -- qualified for Monday's championship round at the Wayside Classic. Morris was the last survivor, losing a C qualifying final 9-3 to Edmonton's Ryan Keane. Morris earned $1,200 ... Kelowna's Pat Ryan beat Edmonton's Jamie King in the $12,000 final ... The Children's Hospital Foundation is partnering to bring the 2005 Canadian Open of Curling to Winnipeg Jan. 27-30. The Canadian Open is the third stop in the 2004-05 PharmAssist Grand Slam of Curling presented by M&M Meats.


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