January 27, 2011
Rookie curlers hold hot handMontford knocks off pair of seeds, eyes playoff spot
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Michelle Montford didn’t get the memo.
She missed the missive that says first-year teams in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts aren’t supposed to win at all in the first two days of the event, when the schedule has the unseeded teams playing the seeded squads.
They aren’t supposed to easily knock off the defending champs.
They aren’t supposed to be tied coming home with the hammer against one of Canada’s most successful cash circuit teams.
They aren’t supposed to win two games in a row against seeded squads.
Montford’s e-mail must have been down that day, because she’s not paying attention to how it’s supposed to play out.
The 22-year-old University of Manitoba student followed up her 7-4 win over defending champion Jill Thurston of the Granite with a 10-4 thumping of No. 7 seed Lisa Blixhavn of Brandon on Thursday afternoon.
Montford, who plays out of Assiniboine Memorial, came back to Earth a bit on Thursday night when she allowed a steal of two in the 11th end against the fifth seed, East St. Paul’s Kim Link, and lost 6-4.
Her record is 2-2, which means she still has a shot at the playoffs but will need some help.
“We’re pretty happy with our progress so far,” Montford said prior to the game against Link.
Their impressive start to the provincial women’s curling championship goes slightly against the grain when you consider how much Montford and her team of 22-year-olds — Courtney Blanchard, Sara Jones and Sarah Norget — have on their plates.
They all go to school, all but Montford have part-time jobs on top of that, and then they curl with whatever time they have left. And this year they’ve increased how much they curl, so sleep is no doubt at a premium.
“It’s pretty intense,” Montford said.
Perhaps that need to focus against sleep deprivation has the Montford squad battle tested for the intensity that is the five-day Scotties. Then again, not even Montford saw it starting this well.
“We originally thought that if we could split the first two days, go 1-1 on both days, that we would be looking pretty good,” she said. “But I thought those were high expectations, so we didn’t have our hopes up too high for that, either.”
A few minutes later, when asked how much buzz her team is generating because of its play, the daughter of well-known ice maker Eric Montford played it cool.
“We’re not really surprising ourselves too much,” she said. “We knew we could do this.”