Wily vets outplay young guns

CHAD SCARSBROOK, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Lois Fowler is down to her last chance.

The Brandon skip is one of eight squads still alive at the 83rd annual Manitoba Curling Association Women's Bonspiel. On the line for her and a handful of other eligible squads is the lone berth remaining at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial championship this month in Morris.

"It's hard every year because we have a strong curling province," Fowler said after disposing of newcomer Shana Rogers of Selkirk 9-3 at Granite Curling Club yesterday to reach today's sudden-death playoffs. "We have a strong curling province. We lost the final of our zone, and we didn't do very well in the berth bonspiel in Neepawa, but we're playing well here."

Fowler has won the provincial championship on four occasions. She was a part of Maureen Bonar's championship teams of 1993 and 1996 and skipped her own team to the title in 1998 and, most recently, 2004.

"It would mean a lot to get back (to the provincials)," said Fowler, who lost in a tiebreaker at last year's tournament in Thompson.

"I've only missed the Scott once in the last few years. We'd all really like to go back. Even though we are a senior team -- we're in the provincial seniors in Altona in February -- we've pretty much always been in the Scott as well. We certainly came in here gunning for the spot, that's for sure."

Fowler, along with third Gwen Wooley, second Lori Manning and lead Lynn Sandercock, cracked a four early and defeated the Selkirk squad in six ends.

"We were throwing well, we just didn't pick up on the ice as quickly as Lois did, and it showed," said a disappointed Rogers, in her first year of competitive curling.

"The four in the fourth killed us. We tried to play the same rock four times in a row, and we missed it four times in a row. You're not going to win a game if you do that. She out-skipped me."

Fowler was one of four qualifiers from the bonspiel's A side, which also includes U.S. Olympian Cassie Johnson of St. Paul, Minn., Stonewall's Angela Wickman and Valour Road's Karen Porritt.

Souris's Kaileigh Strath qualified late last night while games to crown the other three playoff-bound teams were ongoing at press time.

Fowler may be a qualified senior, but it's pretty clear she doesn't mind showing the youngsters a thing or two on the ice.

"We've played three teams that have all been pretty young," laughed Fowler. "We came here to curl as best we can, and if we're fortunate enough to win the berth we'd be thrilled. Otherwise, it's good practice for the senior provincials."

The event wraps up today at Granite. The final is at 5 p.m.


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