Fallis rejuvenated by young team

JIM BENDER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

The den mother may have lucked upon the eager younger pups but Karen Fallis has taught them well.

Fallis was wondering if she would even be playing this season when she heard that Calleen Neufeld was seeking a teammate. The former provincial champ then hooked up with the three-time Manitoba junior women's champion, second Lisa DeRiviere and Jolene Rutter and skipped the Wildewood entry into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in their first try at the berth bonspiel.

Fallis flailed Tanis Fortin of The Pas 13-3 at Killarney's Shamrock Centre yesterday to improve to 4-0, tied atop her Hearts pool with defending champion Barb Spencer and Joelle Brown, both of Fort Rouge.

"So far, we've been getting the breaks but we aren't playing as well as we need to," Fallis cautioned. "But we need to peak at the end of the week. As a rookie team, we still have a lot to learn."

The youngsters, however, have rejuvenated Fallis, who clipped Winkler's Kaileigh Strath 7-6 in the morning.

"They're young, enthusiastic, they love to learn and they're fun to play with," said Fallis, 47. "They keep calling me old but that's OK. I am. But I'm enjoying it."

In fact, the girls' parents are about the same age as Fallis, who returned to her maiden name after a divorce.

"But they're making me feel like I'm younger," she said. "Calleen's 24 and she's such a keen competitor and so driven. She doesn't get flustered and she's been really good for me.

"We still need to get better but it would be so much fun to go away (to the nationals) with these guys. I would have to pretend I was younger, though."

Meanwhile, Assiniboine Memorial's Janet Harvey, Deer Lodge's Jill Thurston, Brandon's Lisa Blixhavn and Morden's Chelsea Carey were tied atop their pool with 3-0 records heading into last night's draw.

BITERS: Manitoba's reigning champion Jeff Stoughton, five-time champ Kerry Burtnyk and Mike McEwen will be conducting an on-ice clinic for 33 junior curlers as part of the Capital One School of Rock program at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club this Monday, 4-6 p.m. The program is just one of many events leading up to the Grand Slam event being held at the MTS Centre, Jan. 20-24. Each participant will get two free tickets to the Slam final and will have the opportunity to compete in an informal pick-up game on the arena ice that morning ... All three Manitoba teams are now competing at a Slam event in Guelph, Ont., along with Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson. Reid Carruthers has also been recruited to spare for Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons, who upset Alberta's Kevin Martin yesterday. Carruthers, by the way, will also spare for Alberta's Chris Schille in Winnipeg ... Burtnyk's Assiniboine Memorial team has been named the top seed for next week's Safeway Championship city zone playdowns. He is followed by Pembina's Pete Nicholls, West Kildonan's Brendan Taylor, Fort Garry's Vic Peters, West Kildonan's Dave Elias, Granite's Bob Sigurdson and Deer Lodge's Sean Grassie, in that order.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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