Charley's a horse

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Charley Thomas scanned over the name boards at the Alberta junior men's curling championship.

He'd just laid down a four-ender to put away fellow Calgary skip Kevin Yablonski 11-4 in yesterday's opening round at the Granite Club.

"No," said Thomas, when asked if he'd met any of those teams at a provincial level before. "One of the unreal things is I'm the only skip here that has skipped in junior before."

The defending world junior champ against guys stepping into the rings for the first time? Compare the situation Thomas faces to Mike Tyson in his prime against an undercard fighter.

"It kind of feels like that for us," said Thomas, who retained lead Kyle Reynolds from his Grande Prairie-based team.

On paper, this team has the talent and experience to be prohibitive favourites to win Sunday's final. Still, curling is a slippery game and stranger things have happened.

Today, as Thomas and his Calgary buddies are marching off to another possible nationals appearance, there's no way to sneak under the radar.

"Obviously, it makes a difference because we've had that experience," said Thomas "We know every team wants to knock us out. We know we're in for a tough road."

Been there, done that is one thing. The grind getting back is another.

"It's hard to keep things in perspective," Thomas said. "One game at a time, I guess, and we'll see how things work out."

Thomas is all too aware this playdowns year is his only chance to become the second skip in history to win two world junior titles. John Morris, currently throwing third rocks for Edmonton's Kevin Martin, was the first to win back-to-back titles in 199," said Thomas. "I'd love to have a chance to follow in his footsteps. Right now, it seems a long way away."

This same foursome picked up $7,500 by getting to the semifinal of an early December World Curling Tour event in Saskatoon and are No. 44 on the WCT money list with $11,825 earned.

"It was between the districts and the southerns and we were looking for something to keep us sharp."

Remember the name. Charley Thomas.


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