Young curler digs deep

JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

You could not tell by the way she annihilated her opponents on the pebble, but Kaitlyn Lawes spent Friday worrying about her dad in the hospital.

Keith Lawes, Kaitlyn's biggest fan and a competitive curler himself, underwent surgery on a brain tumour while she was competing at her fifth straight Target Junior Women's Provincial Championship.

"My dad went through surgery and was unable to watch," Lawes said via telephone from Virden yesterday. "But he was up and talking and doing really well afterwards. As soon as he got out of surgery, he said he wanted to call me to wish me luck before my game.

"(Friday) was a hard day, but I could concentrate on curling while I was on the ice. Off the ice, I was pretty worried. But he's in really good hands. My mom and family are there with him."

But her father missed his daughter posting an impressive 11-1 victory over Virden's Katie Kruk as her Pembina team improved to 5-0 and was alone in first place in her grouping heading into last night's draw.

"All of the other curlers and parents have been really supportive," said Lawes, 18. "I get my hugs every morning."

The Lawes foursome is coached by Alex Mowat, whose daughter, Heather, is still recovering from a vehicle accident.

"We've really been through a lot, but we've kept with it," said Lawes, supported by third Jenna Loder, 18, second Theresa Cannon and Sarah Wazney, both 19.

"It's been a tough year, but it has really brought us together and we are all very supportive of each other. And I think Alex is having fun out here with us."

They will have a lot more fun if they manage to win the Manitoba title this year.

"Every year we've come closer," said Lawes, who lost last year's final to St. Vital's Calleen Neufeld, who is seeking her third straight crown.

Neufeld is also alone in first on her side at 6-0. Meanwhile, Petersfield's Kerri Flett, whose brother Kyle died as the result of a snowmobile accident just before Christmas, defeated Assiniboine Memorial's Michelle Montford (4-1) to improve to 3-2 heading into the late draw.

At the Target Junior Men's Provincial Championship in Rivers, the Kyle Flett Team nipped Wildewood's Geoff Lang (4-1) 7-6 in an extra end to improve to 5-0 and take sole possession of first in its division heading into last night's late draw.

That Petersfield foursome is continuing on under its former skip's name.

On the other side, Fort Garry's top-ranked Andrew Irving improved to 6-0 and is alone in first.

BITERS: The MCA has decided to extend the deadline for entries into its men's bonspiel to Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m. When Thursday's deadline had closed, the total was at 423 teams, 25 short of the desired 448. The decision was based on a number of calls the MCA office received. "And the lower entries make such a difference to the revenues of the curling clubs," said MCA president Mitch Tarapasky, who added that the spiel may be shortened in the near future.


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