Cathy O skipping ahead with new second

Skip Cathy Overton-Clapham (left to right) with Jenna Loder, Ashley Howard and Brienne Meakin,...

Skip Cathy Overton-Clapham (left to right) with Jenna Loder, Ashley Howard and Brienne Meakin, winners of the Autumn Gold Curling Classic at the Calgary Curling Club in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 10, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

WINNIPEG - There is something strikingly familiar about Cathy O’s new second.

That would be Ashley Howard, the daughter of the legendary Russ Howard who moved here from New Brunswick to attend university and curl for Fort Rouge’s Cathy Overton-Clapham.

Russ Howard’s trademark, of course, is screaming after rocks like a wounded moose.

“Yes, she yells like him,” Overton-Clapham said. “She’s his clone. She throws like him, too.”

With Howard, third Jenna Loder and lead Breanne Meakin, Overton-Clapham has slid out to a great start on the cashspiel circuit. First, she won $3,500 for qualifying in Regina, then cashed a $14,000 cheque for winning a women’s Grand Slam in Calgary. The reigning Manitoba champ currently sits third on the WCT money list.

“We had a really good spiel in Calgary and that was exciting,” said Overton-Clapham, who will skip Howard et al. at the World/Manitoba Curling Tour’s $60,000 Manitoba Lotteries Women’s Curling Classic, another women’s Grand Slam that will be held at the Fort Rouge Curling Club this Friday through Monday. “And Ashley had never played in the Calgary Slam before so that was exciting for her.

“It’s worked out well so far and any time you win a spiel with that kind of field, it gives you confidence. Hopefully, we’ll be as sharp as we can be this weekend.”

Russ Howard replaced Rob Meakin (Breanne’s dad), who had Winnipeg Jets tickets that weekend, as the team’s coach in Calgary.

“Rob had his commitment with the Jets so Russ coached us there,” Overton-Clapham said. “I’ve known Russ for a long time — since about 1991 — and I don’t mind listening to what he has to say. I think he knows what he’s talking about.”

Although Meakin was officially listed at third when Overton-Clapham won the Calgary spiel, she has actually played lead all season. Meakin, who played third for her last year, was dropped to lead with Loder replacing her at third at Rob Meakin’s suggestion. Loder and Meakin won a silver medal at the 2009 junior women’s world championship while playing the same positions for Kaitlyn Lawes.

The rest of the field will include Alberta’s Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard, Saskatchewan’s reigning Canadian champion Amber Holland, Sweden’s reigning world champ Anette Norberg, Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa, Manitoba’s former world champ Jennifer Jones and Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey, who beat Overton-Clapham in last year’s final.

The winner will earn $15,000.

STOUGHTON IN ACTION: Manitoba’s reigning world champion Jeff Stoughton will also be on local ice this weekend. Stoughton will be among an impressive field at the W/MCT’s $58,000 Canad Inns Prairie Classic to be played in Portage la Prairie, Friday to Monday. Manitoba’s Mike McEwen will also be there to defend his title and compete for the $18,000 first-place cash.

Other confirmed teams include Alberta’s former world champion Kevin Koe, Ontario’s former world champ Glenn Howard, the USA’s Pete Fenson and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson, who won the Russia championship last year.

BITERS: Also on tap this weekend are both the Junior Men’s and Women’s Berth Bonspiels being held in Stonewall … The Deer Lodge Curling Club will host a sendoff for Manitoba Mixed champion Sean Grassie on Oct. 29 … The Brandon C.C. will host a luncheon for Canadian Masters Women’s champ Joyce McDougall on Oct. 25.


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