Sweeting dreams the impossible

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:14 PM ET

EDMONTON — Something special has happened since Valerie Sweeting beat Shannon Kleibrink in the final of the Alberta women’s championship earlier this month.

Sweeting’s team has become curling cult heroines.

Curling fans have always loved the underdog and Sweeting’s team from Edmonton’s Saville Centre certainly fits the bill.

The team representing Alberta at this year’s Scotties starting Saturday is young, averaging just under 22 years of age.

Sweeting and third Megan Einarson are only in their second year at the women’s level. Second Whitney More and lead Lindsay Makichuk are one year removed from junior.

This is a team that was seeded ninth going into what was considered a tough Alberta Scotties, that somehow scrambled into the playoff round and knocked off former champs Cathy King in the semi and Kleibrink in the final.

The team’s story been cited as inspirational by veteran skips at the men’s northerns, an example to the throwback days when any team could dream an impossible dream and make it happen.

Sweeting seems a bit unsure about what to make of it all.

“I didn’t know people felt that way,” said Sweeting about the support her team is sure to have when it hits the ice in Saulte Ste. Marie. “It’s great. It’s exciting. We’re really excited about being able to represent Alberta. It’s a great accomplishment and surprising at a young age.

“We played well and we beat the best teams there.”

The Alberta field included two teams that were in the Roar of the Rings in early December — Kleibrink and Crystal Webster — and a raft of former champs.

“It was a really good experience,” said Sweeting. “We stayed calm. We didn’t look ahead at what we were doing.”

Looking ahead to the Scotties, Sweeting will be facing four more teams that appeared in Edmonton — Jennifer Jones, Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland, Ontario’s Krista McCarville and B.C.’s Kelly Scott.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Sweeting. “Yeah, we’re really young but we played the best to make it there.

“If we just approach it the same way we did provincials, we’ll be OK. We may be young, but there’s no reason we can’t do as well as any of the other teams going.”

Sweeting knows that her team will be able to fly under the radar because it its lack of notoriety.

“It’s easy for people to say that,” said Sweeting. “As far as myself, I have a lot of faith and a lot of confidence in the girls I play with. We just have to play well and stick together and hopefully, it’ll fall into place.”

The odds are stacked against any team coming out of Alberta anyway.

King’s win in 1998 was the sole win for Alberta since 1981.

“Even though we’ve never been there before, we want to enjoy everything, learn a lot from it and, obviously, we’d like to do well,” said Sweeting. “We’re not afraid of playing well. We’re going to go there and go after it. What else can you do, really?”

“You can’t really let the big names throw you off. Experience or no experience, you still have to make your shots. If we can do that, we’ll be just fine.”

At the very least, she already knows there will be plenty of Alberta fans hoping for another miracle.


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