Last shot at a Scott berth

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

Joelle Brown has been on the outside looking in before at this time of year and that's why she knows there's still a window of hope.

The Fort Rouge skip is heading into the Manitoba Curling Association women's bonspiel without a berth in the upcoming provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts.

She can rectify that little problem by either winning or being the highest eligible finisher this weekend at the Granite and Victoria Curling Clubs, which is something she has done before. Several times, in fact.

"Our No. 1 priority is the berth and the best way to get it is to win the bonspiel," said Brown, a two-time MCA women's champion and former provincial women's runner-up (2004), who won the berth at this event last year.

SOME STRUGGLES

"We are going in with as much confidence as we do in any bonspiel. We've had some struggles this year but any team can get hot."

Brown's foursome of Colleen Kilgallen, Kim Link and Pam Kolton, which has played together for three years, is one of 21 teams eligible for the last remaining Scott berth.

Nine teams which previously qualified through zone playdowns and a berth bonspiel are in the 32-team competitive field. They include former provincial champions Janet Harvey, Barb Spencer, Karen Porritt and Darcy Robertson.

"A lot of teams want to tone up their game and play a little bit of spoiler," said Brown, who opens the bonspiel today at 3 p.m., against Tanya Craig of St. Vital. "But it's easier for them to shake off a loss. If we lose, it's pretty much the end of our season so it's going to be pretty intense for us."

TUNE-UP FOR TURIN

Added to the mix this year are a couple of ineligible teams with fine credentials.

The American Olympic team, skipped by Cassie Johnson of Bemidji, Minn., will use this as a tune-up for next month's Turin Games. Joining them are the reigning U.S. junior champs, skipped by Gillian Gervais from Bismarck, N.D.

"It would be great to play them," Brown said of the American teams. "I'm looking forward to it."

Among the other skips with previous Scott experience who are still looking for a ticket to Thompson (Jan. 25-29) are Patti Burtnyk of Assiniboine-Memorial, Liza Park of Brandon, Jan Sandison of Springfield and Linda Stewart of Bowsman.

Eight teams will qualify for Sunday's playoff round, with the final slated for 4:30 p.m. at the Granite.

Another 30 teams will compete in the recreational division today through Sunday.


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