January 25, 2012
Alberta Scotties can decide fate quickly
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency
Don’t blink or you might miss it.
Alberta’s triple-knockout format at the provincial curling championship level wastes little time in determining the playoff teams.
It also has its quirks.
The A Event winner will be determined Thursday night and that team has to find a way to stay sharp until the playoff round starts Saturday night.
Two-time Alberta champ (1999, 2001) Renee Sonnenbergh of Grande Prairie has felt both the highs and the cruelty of the schedule’s demands.
Sonnenberg won the A Event at Wainwright in 2008 before losing the final. Last year in Camrose, Sonnenberg made an early exit.
Given her choices, Sonnenberg would rather wait around for the weekend rather than being done before the weekend.
“Yeah, because you’ve still got a lot of games to play and some lives left,” said Sonnenberg about the advantage of winning the A Event. “You hate to use your lives early. The longer you can wait to lose, the better.
“It’s really a different mindset. You have to keep yourself busy because the down times can seem really long.”
Sonnenberg is coming in with a confident frame of mind.
“We’ve had a real solid year,” said Sonnenberg, skip of Canada’s No. 8-ranked team. “We’re really enjoying our time on the ice together and feel we can do anything we need to do. It’s quite exciting to be here this year.
“I don’t feel there is a real clear frontrunner. It’s definitely a tough year in terms of being able to predict what can happen. A loss here doesn’t kill you, but you want to avoid them as long as you can.”
There’s not many female curlers who can boast their husbands are former world curling champions.
This Alberta Scotties has a pair — Lawnie MacDonald and Heather Nedohin.
MacDonald is carrying the family colours, throwing third rocks for Sonnenberg.
Her husband Blake won the 2010 world championship with the Kevin Koe rink.
“Does that get us a few points on the scoreboard?” MacDonald joked.
After a farewell tour as world champion, Blake stepped away from the game this season to concentrate on his successful business interests.
“I’m trying my best,” MacDonald said about upholding the family’s tradition of excellence. “There’s lots of pressure. Actually, none whatsoever.”
It took a little while to get used to Blake being around home more often, said MacDonald, but it’s worked out well.
“It’s been a big change this year for our family,” said MacDonald, mother of Spencer, 8, and Bronwyn, 5.
Blake keeps busy by coaching ther son Spencer’s hockey teams, but there have been some interesting moments.
One came when the family was watching Koe’s team recently win the TSN SKins game.
“Spencer was trying his best to get Blake some money out of the win,” said MacDonald. “It was funny. Spencer was saying ‘Daddy, don’t you get some of that money?’ ”
COACH COMES BACK
It worked once. Maybe it’ll work again.
When Darryl Horne retired from the coaching ranks and moved to Salmon Arm, B.C. in 2009, he left with a pretty impressive record.
Horne coached the 1998 team skipped by Cathy King, the only team to bring back a Canadian championship for Alberta since 1981.
Heather Nedohin threw third rocks on that team. She was looking for a coach after Tom Longmore stepped aside and gave Horne a call.
“I enjoyed coaching Heather and we had a good relationship,” said Horne. “She gave me a call. I didn’t know how that would work, but here we are.
“It’s pretty flattering to have a team give me a call.”