Curling never easy

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Easy? Hard? Take your choice.

Cathy King lets out a chuckle when she tells you her team always seems to do things the hard way.

This morning, when King's crew slides into Hinton for the women's northerns, they put this season's undefeated playdowns record on the line.

They may be the defending provincial women's curling champions, but it's going to be, oh, so tough.

"It's like starting a new season," moaned King about the Christmas season distractions. "We haven't played a game for three weeks, since our Dec. 14 Super League game.

"Lori (third Armitstead) has been in Phoenix and got back Wednesday night."

About the only rocks Armitstead has thrown in the past two weeks were in her drinks.

"It totally takes you a while to get sharp again," said King.

The fact the team went through the city playdowns with an unblemished record may be considered a mini-miracle.

King was invited to Halifax for the Olympic Trials as fifth for Ontario's Sherry Middaugh. Trouble was, the trials playoff round conflicted with the city playdowns.

King and her rinkmates spent hours plotting all eventualities, including recruiting last year's provincial junior champ Desiree Robertson to sub in. Robertson had helped the team win the St. Albert spiel while King was at the trials' opening weekend.

When Middaugh's team missed the playoffs, King knew she could make it back.

"The way we figured it, I could get to the rink for the third end of the first game," said King. "I left five minutes after the (trials) game and got to Toronto from Halifax on schedule. But then, the plane got delayed out of Toronto."

With Armitstead throwing skip rocks, the King-less side pulled out their first start.

"The girls responded to the situation and got it done when it mattered," said King.

One of the more fascinating lineups this weekend will be the only other squad skipped by a former provincial champ.

Deb Santos has the same supporting cast that helped King win the 1998 Scotts.

Heather Nedohin rejoins the former championship front-end duo of Kate Horne and Brenda Bohmer. Nedohin is pinch-hitting for Jackie-Rae Greening, who's taken on the task as president of the 2007 Worlds being held in Edmonton.

"If we want to get back to the Scotts, I know we'll have to meet up with them at some time," said King.

EXTRA ENDS: Jamie King skips the highest-profile team at the men's city playdowns, which got underway at the Shamrock last night. King, who lost the 2005 Alberta final to Randy Ferbey, gets his first start at 5:30 tonight ... Ferbey has already qualified for the provincials as defending champ and Kevin Martin as the top-ranked Alberta team. Mark Johnson, No. 5 on the World Curling tour money list and Ryan Keane earned Alberta Tour exemptions.


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