She has been compared to transplanted Manitoban Kelly Scott ever since she burst upon the local junior women's competitive curling scene when she was just a young lass of 13.
And now, Kaitlyn Lawes hopes to become the first Manitoba team to at least win the Canadian crown since Scott (nee MacKenzie) won both the nationals and world junior titles back in 1995. Lawes, 19, will skip her Pembina squad at the M&M Canadian Junior Men's and Women's Championships, which start in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., this Saturday.
"Actually, it's kind of ironic because, when my sister won the women's nationals in 1990, she won in Ontario and the worlds were in Sweden then, too," Lawes pointed out yesterday.
Kaitlyn's half-sister, Andrea Lawes, won the Canadian title at second for Ontario's Alison Goring.
The junior worlds will be held in Ostersund, Sweden, Mar. 1-9.
CHEERING FOR MANITOBA
Andrea Lawes will be in Sault Ste. Marie to support Kaitlyn, Sunday to Tuesday.
"She says it's the first time she'll be cheering for Manitoba and not Ontario," said Kaitlyn, who has been exchanging e-mails with Andrea. "Hopefully, we can get a few pointers from her."
Kaitlyn's grandmother and a couple of aunts will also be there. And so will her dad, Keith, who just passed away in November, in spirit.
"Hopefully he'll help us out," said Kaitlyn, 19. "He gives me strength to keep going."
Second Liz Peters, who just joined the team this year, was impressed with how Lawes handled her father's death.
"Kaitlyn is really strong and I admire her for everything she's gone through," said Peters (Vic's daughter). "She's just been amazing."
Peters, 20, went to her first national junior championship at lead for Allison Nimik back in 2001.
"Yeah, I was starting to wonder if I'd ever get back but I worked hard for it every single year," she said. "But it's been a really great year and Kaitlyn is such a great curler that I've learned a lot about strategy from her. Even if I hadn't won the provincials, I still had a great time curling with them."
While Nimik's young foursome finished with a disappointing 4-8 record, Lawes is expected to challenge for the Canadian crown. After all, Manitoba's Calleen Neufeld made it to the final the past two years, losing both, and Lawes beat Neufeld's former team in the Manitoba final.
"We're hoping to repeat (Neufeld's) performance and maybe have a better outcome at the end," Peters said.
"Hopefully, we can take that next step," said Lawes, also supported by third Jenna Loder, 19, and Sarah Wazney, 20. "I'm very excited."
Wazney, by the way, played lead for Manitoba's Reid Carruthers at the national Mixed in November.
"When she came back, she said, 'Girls, I'm going to the nationals with you,'" Lawes recalled.
PETERS PUMPED: While this has been a great season for the Vic Peters family thus far, Kyle Peters is NOT Vic's son, or even related. But obviously, Kyle has the same kind of curling talent.
Peters will skip his Pembina squad in the nationals and he can't wait to get there.
"Yeah, we're very excited," said Peters, supported by third Ian Fordyce, 20, second Nigel Milnes, 19, and Stuart Shiells, 20. "We should do fairly well. People are saying we should be better than half the teams there. If we play as well as we can, we should be OK."
Peters, 20, will rely on Milnes because he was there at second for Travis Bale two years ago.
"He'll kind of know what's going on and take the pressure off," said Peters, who felt that pressure in the provincial final. "In the last end, I started thinking, 'I could be the provincial champion.'"
Now, his foursome could become Canadian champs.
Pembina's Kyle Peters will play an exhibition game against clubmate Kaitlyn Lawes to warm up for the nationals at the Elmwood Curling Club today at 5:30 p.m. ... Lawes, however, has been under the weather lately and hopes to recover by the time the teams leave on Friday .... Don't forget the 7th Annual Ironman Outdoor Bonspiel, which raises money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, to be played on the Assiniboine River at The Forks Historic Port this Friday to Sunday ... The deadline for entries into the Manitoba Mixed zone playdowns is Feb. 14. Contact the MCA.
The World Curling Federation is reportedly looking into starting a World Under-19 championship to coincide with IOC's Under-19 Youth Olympics. If it happens, the junior age would be raised to 23 ... Forget, for now, a Friday start to the MCA's annual bonspiel next year. A tentative schedule is apparently being drawn up with a Thursday start ... Trevor Loreth wants to see even more changes to the spiel to get the juniors back. "When I started playing in men's, they had no trouble getting to 512 (teams), now they can't fill 400," the third for Victoria's Brad Haight said during the spiel. "I don't think there are as many young guys coming up as there is older guys going out, so they've got to start somewhere" ... The West Kildonan Curling Club has made a number of improvements to its facility, including the installation of an elevator to accommodate the wheelchair curlers coming for the national championships in March ... Saskatchwan is planning more changes to its women's provincials because entries have been flagging.
"Give me a break. Do you think the Joan Ingrams of the world would have given us a break just because we were young bucks? Not a chance. You learn from your mistakes."
-- A former competitive curler, who wished to remain anonymous, reacting to the crowd booing Jennifer Jones for calling a popular young opponent for a burned rock during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.