Off beach, onto pebble

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

THOMPSON -- Not many curlers spend a week soaking up the sun and surf of the Mayan Riviera worrying about whether they will lose their talented touch with granite.

But Brandon's Lois Fowler was determined to make sure she was ready for the gruelling task of competing at this week's Scott Tournament of Hearts in northern Manitoba while attending a recent wedding in Mexico.

"Oh yeah, I went to the gym, worked out in the morning and we did tons of walking," Fowler said yesterday. "I did a lot of stretching because I was a little concerned. And I swam a lot. As long as you're doing anything physical, it's good for the body."

But while we can picture Fowler in a bikini on the beach striking a delivery pose with an imaginary rock at the ready, there was no such scene for the Mexicans. Or so she claimed.

SHOOK OUT THE SAND

But as soon as she shook the sand out of her swimsuit, Fowler was back on the ice in Brandon.

"I just came back fully relaxed and a couple of days back on the ice, it really wasn't too hard to adjust," said Fowler.

Proof in that pudding came when Fowler flailed Thompson's Debbie Cripps 10-3 at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena yesterday to post her third straight victory at the provincial championship.

Although Fowler just celebrated her 51st birthday, the four-time Scott champ is still one of the most feared opponents on the pebble.

"Maureen (Bonar) always calls me, 'Feisty Fowler' and I am a little spitfire out there," admitted Fowler, who will also compete in the senior women's provincial playdowns this year. "I have really tried to work out hard at the gym the last few years just to try to stay fit because I love the game. I think it's important to stay active and keep your weight under control to try to keep up with the young ones."

But it was the older ones who snapped Fowler's three-game winning streak as Baldur's Gwen Wooley beat the Brandonites 5-4 in an extra end last night. Wooley is supported by the same three players that Fowler will skip in the Manitoba seniors in March.

"It didn't matter who we played, I just didn't play well enough," admitted Fowler, who dropped to 3-1. "It was just a few missed opportunities. But I'd rather lose now than in the final."

Wooley improved to 2-2.

"It feels good for two reasons," said Wooley, supported by third Lori Manning, second Evelyn Clegg and Jean Ungarian. "One is that I don't think I've ever beaten Lois before. And to do it here at the Scott is special."

Meanwhile, Stonewall's Rhonda Varnes shocked both Fort Rouge's top-ranked Janet Harvey 8-7 and St. Vital's fourth-seeded Kristy Jenion 8-7 to up her record to 2-2.

"I'm still shaking," said Varnes, who cracked a three in the 10th end without having to throw the hammer. "We brought down the top seed and that is really exciting. I'm really happy to have pulled it off, that's for sure.

"This should give our team lots of confidence and hopefully, we can keep it together."

Harvey also fell to 3-1 and is tied with Fowler atop her pool.

Meanwhile, Fort Rouge's second-seeded Barb Spencer and St. Vital's Karen Porritt are tied for first in the other pool at 4-0.

"This is where we wanted to be after two days but we know that there's still three more games and anything can happen," Spencer cautioned after edging Starbuck's winless Chris Scalena 7-5. "We were 4-0 last year and it went downhill after that (three straight losses). Hopefully, this year, we can keep things going and I feel like we've been building each game."

Shauna Streich of Fort Rouge is also in the thick of things at 3-1.


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