Walchuk officially a Manitoban

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Kerry Burtnyk's new rink is now fully Manitoban.

Don Walchuk, the new third, has established residency in the Keystone Province before the Nov. 1 deadline and is therefore eligible to compete with Burtnyk and company during the Safeway provincial curling championship.

Burtnyk, who represented Manitoba at the Brier last March, made the announcement during an interview following a press conference for the BDO Classic Canadian Open at the MTS Centre yesterday.

"We've now just recently finalized that and Don's gotten himself a place here in Winnipeg," said Burtnyk, whose new rink is in action this weekend at the Meyers Norris Penny Classic in Portage la Prairie. "That's great news and I'm really happy it's working out. (The provincials are) an important event during the course of the year, where there's an ability to not only get to the Brier but accumulate points toward the 2009 Olympic trials."

As far as the new season goes, Burtnyk is happy with the way Walchuk, who replaced Dan Kammerlock, is fitting in with the new rink, which also includes lead Garth Smith and second Richard Daneault.

"We're off to a good start," said Burtnyk. "In the first few events, we've come out of the gates pretty strong. We're happy with how we've played and most importantly, we're thrilled with how everybody is hitting it off and getting along.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to build on that as the year goes on here."

After curling with the likes of Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey and Pat Ryan (along with skipping his own team) Walchuk brings a host of experience to the table.

"The single biggest thing is the communication and when you bring in someone new to the team, you don't know for sure how the communication is going to work," said Burtnyk. "When everybody is thinking on the same wavelength and is able to be open with each other and able to say anything to anybody, then it makes it that much easier to do your job individually. Don has always been one of the best curlers out there in the game and that hasn't changed. With his experience he has, Don has more input and that's something I'm welcoming.

"After the first three events here, I think our communication has been extremely strong, especially considering we are a new team."

Early-bird ticket packages for the BDO Classic Canadian Open, the third leg of the Grand Slam of Curling, go on sale today at 10 a.m., with individual tickets beginning at $12 and full event packages starting at $99.

The BDO Classic Canadian Open runs from Jan. 21 to 25 at the MTS Centre.

WOMEN'S EVENT: The Meyers Norris Penny Classic isn't the only big curling event in the province this weekend.

Over at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, the Casinos of Winnipeg Women's Curling Classic begins tomorrow and features 32 top teams competing for a purse of $62,000.

Jennifer Jones' reigning Canadian and World Championship squad from St. Vital is in the field along with Shannon Kleibrink of Alberta, Kelly Scott of B.C., Annette Norberg of Sweden and 2008 Canadian junior champion Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg.

FOUR HONOURED: The Manitoba Curling Association inducted four new honourary life members yesterday.

Bill Campbell (who has volunteered at every major curling event in Brandon since the 1982 Brier), Jo-Anne Inglis (a director with the Manitoba Curling Foundation Board), Carrol Thompson (a long-time instructor, coach and official in Thompson) and Global Winnipeg sports director Joe Pascucci received the distinction.


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