The luck of the draw

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Curling life should be this sweet for everyone.

In less than a year since she became the lead for Jennifer Jones, Dawn Askin has won the Canada Cup, the women's Players' Championship, the women's Canadian Team Ranking System points race, earned a trip to the Manitoba women's championship, qualified for the Olympic trials qualifying tourney, and will participate in her very first Continental Cup, which starts in Medicine Hat, Alta., tomorrow.

"It's great, I'm having a blast," Askin said before leaving. "I'm going to the Contintental Cup, Canada Cup, Players. There's so much opportunity and I can't ask for anything more."

Jones has already qualified for both the Canada Cup (defending champ) and Players' Championship (money list) and is second on the CTRS points standings this year. And she is on the precipice of becoming one of the first four teams to earn a 2009 Canadian Curling Trials berth.

"I knew there was opportunity, for sure, and it's great," said Askin, who moved here from Ottawa due to her romance with former Manitoba junior champion Mike McEwen. "We're pretty much playing in every big event and we're ecstatic about it."

Askin, 27, had played second for Ontario's Jenn Hanna, who lost the 2005 national final to Jones.

But Jones did not get a chance to compete at the Continental Cup the ensuing season as it is cancelled every Olympic year. Now, they're both getting a shot at it.

"It sounds like a fun atmosphere," said Askin, who got a job transfer from the federal government. "I'll do some cheering and a bit of playing and it should be good."

The Continental Cup has added a Mixed Skins event and has changed the Mixed doubles format to discard the sweepers, conforming to the setup at the inaugural world championship. Second Jill Officer has objected to the latter because she is supposed to sweep her own rock and usually brushes on the right side, meaning she needs a gripper.

The total prize purse has also been reduced to about $88,400, with each member of the winning side earning $2,000. But that's dropped from the $200,000 first offered when the unique event began.

Jones will be part of Team North America, which includes Canada's Kelly Scott, Glenn Howard and Randy Ferbey, as well as Deb McCormick and Todd Birr of the U.S. They will play Team Europe -- Scotland's David Murdoch and Kelly Wood, Germany's Andy Kapp, Switzerland's Andreas Schwaller, Russia's Liudmila Privivkova and Denmark's Angelina Jensen.

CBC will televise Skins Games on Saturday and Sunday. Curltv will also broadcast games to its subscribers.

IMPULSE ENTRY: Kaileigh Strath, who is skipping the remaining members of the reigning junior women's provincial champs, has entered the Canada Cup women's qualifying bonspiel that starts in Edmonton today.

"We just heard that there were some spots available and thought, 'Wow, what an experience that would be!'" said third Sabrina Neufeld, who helped Calleen Neufeld (no relation) win the last three junior crowns. "We just did it on kind of impulse and we're really excited about it."

Even the $1,255 entry fee did not scare the juniors off.

"I think it will be a priceless experience," said Neufeld. "And we're hoping to win some of that back."

Although second Laryssa Grenkow also made the trip, former teammate Lindsay Edie will replace Breanne Meakin because the lead could not take the time off school.

"We hope to curl well and (getting to the Canada Cup) would be a lifetime experience, that's for sure," said Neufeld, whose team has qualified for the junior provincials again.

HEAT'S ON: Now that his daughters Darcy Robertson and Barb Spencer have qualified for the women's provincials, Jim Kirkness said the pressure is on his son, James, to make it. Kirkness recently qualified for the Masters provincials.


Videos

Photos