Firsts pile up for 'Toba lead

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

VERNON, B.C. -- This is yet another first for the Canada lead.

In the past year and a half, Dawn Askin won her first Canada Cup, first Players' Championship, competed in her first Continental Cup, captured her first Manitoba women's title, won her first Canadian championship, earned the first bye into the Olympic trials and will compete in her first world championship with Jennifer Jones this week.

"I'm so excited, I'm just taking this all in," Askin, 27, said yesterday. "And this (Team Canada) outfit is just great. You never know when an opportunity like this is going to come around and I want to take full advantage of it."

HIDEAWAY: Like they did at the provincials, the Jones entourage will be sequestered away from the team hotel.

"There was this guy who is just a huge fan who offered these condominiums on a lake just outside of town for us and our families," Jones said. "I met him during the Canada Cup and he asked if we'd be interested in staying there.

"You just have to pinch yourself that people want to support you like that."

During the provincials in Gimli, the team stayed at a cottage outside town.

MEXICAN MEETING: Winnipeg's John Helston is coaching the Denmark team here.

"I had had some discussions with (the CCA's) Gerry Peckham and told him that I was interested in coaching in Europe," said Helston, who won the 1984 Brier at second for Mike Riley. "Then I ran into him in Puerta Vallarta, of all places, and he said the Danish Curling Association was looking for a coach."

The Danes were looking to upgrade their curling program with a Canuck coach and did so with Helston, who once coached Canada's Jones.

NO SURPRISE: Although most observers were taken aback by the fact that Sweden's Olympic gold-medallist Anette Norberg did not qualify for these worlds, it certainly did not go to the head of young Stina Viktorsson, 22.

"Our goal for the season was to beat them," said Viktorsson, who defeated Norberg 10-3 in the Swedish final. "They had the bigger surprise."

She admitted knowing little about the opposing teams here.

"But I don't feel that much pressure," said the student, who prefers the aggressive game. "Maybe I should."


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