You never know when wacky ice or a red-hot opposing skip is going to strike, which is why Jill Thurston was breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday.
The reigning Manitoba women’s curling champ will be back to defend her Scotties crown next month after she won her zone at the city playdowns at West Kildonan Curling Club.
Thurston, the second seed among the 13 Winnipeg squads in five Winnipeg zones, punched her ticket by sweeping Fort Garry’s Tracy Igonia in their best-of-three series.
“It’s great,” Thurston said. “Zones is always kind of a scary deal, because you never know who you’re going to play. We’re very excited to be going back.”
Top seed Cathy Overton-Clapham also swept her zone, but in a bit of a shocker, No. 3 Barb Spencer, the 2009 Scotties champ, failed to qualify for the field in Altona Jan. 26 to 30.
Brette Richards, who played second for Spencer when they won the province two years ago, beat her former boss twice on the weekend to capture the berth through Zone 12.
Other notables who grabbed Scotties berths on the weekend were Morden’s Chelsea Carey, Fort Rouge’s Joelle Brown and Brandon’s Lisa Blixhavn.
Thurston returns to defend her title with a new team, as she parted ways with her front end of Leslie Wilson and Renaura Westcott following last year’s national Scotties. Kristin Phillips remains at third for Thurston, who added Jenna Loder and Kendra Georges (her fifth last year).
Coincidentally, Overton-Clapham got Wilson and Westcott to join her new team after she was let go by Jennifer Jones. Overton-Clapham and Thurston are likely going to be the top two seeds in Altona.
Thurston likes the momentum her new-look foursome has accumulated this fall.
“We’ve had a really consistent season and feel we’re building towards provincials,” she said. “We feel like we’re pretty consistent.”
PROVINCIAL CHAMP: Brandon’s Joyce McDougall won the Manitoba masters women’s title on Sunday in Carman, downing St. Vital’s Elaine Jones 10-2 in the final.
McDougall, supported by Linda Vandaele, Cheryl Orr and Karen Dunbar, will represent the province at the Canadian masters championship, which will be held at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial March 30 to April 5.
SLICK WILLY: Deer Lodge’s William Lyburn qualified for the Safeway Championship after winning the Brandon Berth Bonspiel on Sunday in the Wheat City.
Lyburn downed Brandon’s Terry McNamee 6-1 in the final.
The Manitoba men’s curling championship will be held in Beausejour Feb. 9-13.
Teams that qualified over the weekend for the Manitoba women’s curling championship, Jan. 26-30 in Altona:
Zone 1 — Kelly Wiwcharuk, Snow Lake
Zone 2 — Bev Lumax, Swan River
Zone 3 — Lisa Blixhavn, Brandon
Zone 4 — Tina Kozak, Brookdale
Zone 5 — Betty Buurma, Carberry
Zone 6 — Chelsea Carey, Morden
Zone 7 — Deb McCreanor, La Salle
Zone 8 — Kim Link, East St. Paul
Zone 9 — Karen Rosser, Springfield
Zone 10 — Cathy Overton-Clapham, Fort Rouge
Zone 11 — Jill Thurston, Granite
Zone 12 — Brette Richards, Assiniboine Memorial
Zone 13 — Joelle Brown, Fort Rouge
Zone 14 — Michelle Montford, Fort Rouge
Previously qualified — Janet Harvey, Assiniboine Memorial; Kerri Einarson, Fort Rouge
Teams that qualified over the weekend for Manitoba’s respective junior curling championships, to be held Jan. 6-10 in Gimli (junior men’s) and at Winnipeg’s Victoria Curling Club (junior women’s):
Winnipeg — Brandi Oliver, Victoria; Abby Ackland, Pembina; Beth Peterson, Victoria
Westman — Janelle Vachon, Brandon; Kaylee McNamee, Brandon
Central — Katherine Doerksen, Morden; Kayla Curtis, La Salle
Eastman — Jenna Boisvert, Stonewall
Interlake — Katie Spencer, East St. Paul
Parkland — Meaghan Brezden, Dauphin
Previously qualified — Alyssa Vandepoele, Ste. Anne; Kate Cameron, Victoria; Breanne Meakin, St. Vital
Winnipeg — Joel Hildebrand, Deer Lodge; Kyle Doering, West Kildonan; Randy Creg, West St. Paul
Westman — Braden Calvert, Carberry; Brett Fitzmaurice, Brandon
Central — Michael Gall, Morden, Kyle Curtis, La Salle
Interlake — Sam Good, Stonewall
Norman — Todd Boisvert, Thompson
Parkland — Corey Toews, Dauphin
Previously qualified — Daniel Birchard, Pembina; Derek Blanchard, Assiniboine Memorial; Joey Witherspoon, Deer Lodge