Grandma can't watch kids

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

When Rhonda Ritchie called her mom late Saturday night to tell her she had just qualified for the Scott Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship, the mind games began.

Ritchie's mom, you see, is none other than Lois Fowler, the defending Scott champ.

REALLY CONCERNED?

"The first thing she said was, 'What are you going to do with the kids?'" Ritchie said yesterday at Winnipeg's Heather Curling Club.

Hmmm.

Was Fowler really concerned about her grandchildren, or was she planting a seed to make her daughter worry about her children when the Scott is held Jan. 26-30 in Souris?

Ritchie plays second for Liza Park's Brandon rink. Park scooped up the 16th and final Scott berth on Saturday night when she beat Valour Road's Tracy Andries 8-3 in a B-side qualifier of the MCA's 81st annual Women's Bonspiel.

Since the other seven qualifiers already had Scott berths, Park is Souris-bound. Park lost 6-5 to Fort Rouge's Joelle Duguid in a quarter-final yesterday morning, but she wasn't too upset.

"We came here for one reason, and we got it," she said.

Park's foursome, which also consists of third Jamie Coxworth and lead Heather Mowat, is playing quite well lately, as evidenced by its win at the Manitoba Curling Tour championship last weekend in Ste. Anne.

"We've really clicked, and we're strong right now," Park said.

"We're confident we can play any of those teams (at the Scott). We've beaten most of the teams that are going to be there this year, somewhere along the way. We're pretty confident."

Two other rinks that were still in the hunt for the final Scott berth -- St. Vital's Lisa Fargey and Stonewall's Patti Burtnyk -- played in separate B-side qualifiers at the Heather at the same time as Park's game.

"As much as I was trying to keep focused on my game, I was watching those other scoreboards," said Park, 24, who works in Deloraine as an insurance and investment advisor.

When Fargey fell to Janet Harvey and Burtnyk lost to Jennifer Jones, that meant Park's battle against Andries -- another squad looking for a Scott spot -- was for all the marbles.

Team Park immediately stepped it up, scoring two in the seventh and stealing three more in the eighth to seal the deal.

"I guess if we had kept our heads in the game a little bit earlier, maybe we would've gotten on top of things," Park said.

JETTED OFF

Ritchie, 32, played with her mom on Maureen Bonar's Brandon rink, which won the 1993 provincial championship but lost the national Scott final to Sandra Schmirler. Ritchie eventually got married and jetted off to Germany for the last six winters, where her husband -- former Brandon Wheat King Darren Ritchie -- played pro hockey.

Rhonda Ritchie didn't throw a single rock during those six years, but now she's back and could play against her mom for the first time -- on the provincial stage, no less.

"It's destined to happen at some point," Ritchie said.

Now all she has to do is figure out what to do with her kids.


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