October 22, 2012
Mother, daughter have their eyes on Scotties
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Barb Spencer likes to keep it in the family.
For years, Spencer curled with her older sister, Darcy Robertson, and won three Manitoba women's titles with her.
She has also played Mixed with her father, Jim Kirkness, and brother, James Kirkness.
Now, Spencer has taken her daughter, Katie, under her wing. Fresh out of junior, Katie is playing third for her Mom against the best teams in Canada.
"It's definitely been a dream and not many people can say that they play with their kids," Spencer said after eliminating fellow Manitoban Chelsea Carey 6-3 in a Manitoba Lotteries Women's Curling Classic contest at the Fort Rouge Curling Club on Sunday.
"She is getting good experience, but she doesn't seem to be nervous at all. She seems to be pretty calm and cool out there and I'm pretty proud of the way she's playing."
Spencer, 46, had no qualms about inserting the youngster at third, either.
"I know that Katie can shoot the rock well and we get along well, and we're kind of on the same page," she said. "She's been around curling her whole life, so she's definitely picked up on strategy and things like that. So I had no problem and I had complete confidence putting her in there at third."
Katie Spencer is playing in her second women's Grand Slam as she was also in Calgary where the team only won one game.
"It's very exciting," said Katie, 22. "I'm so privileged to be playing with my Mom. Not many juniors get to play right at the top level coming out of junior, so it's a really good experience for me and I'm learning a lot.
"I've always been here watching this event and now that I've actually played in it, it's really exciting."
No matter how this weekend turns out, Barb Spencer will use the season to prepare for the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts because she has earned an exemption through her CTRS points.
"So we don't have to worry about zones or playdowns or anything this year," said Spencer, who then bounced B.C.'s Kelly Scott 7-6 in an extra end and was still trying to qualify late Sunday. "So we're pretty fortunate that way, too. So we're just going to try to play in a lot of bonspiels, practise a lot as a team and try to get ready for provincials."
Meanwhile, Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink clipped Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville 5-3 to qualify for Monday's playoff round.
"It feels great," said Kleibrink, 44. "I'm getting old, so it saves us one more game."
Kleibrink, who won a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, is taking one last shot at getting back again.
"This will be my last try, so we are playing as many spiels as we possibly can fit in," said Kleibrink, who had talked about giving up the chase a couple of years ago. "I didn't know if I'd be able to go another trials round. But I feel just as good as when I was 30 so I thought, 'Why not?'"
Ontario's Rachel Homan also qualified.
Manitoba's Mike McEwen, the spiel's defending champ, surprised Alberta's Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin 7-1 in a B qualifier in Portage la Prairie.
Ontario's reigning Canadian champion Glenn Howard defeated Manitoba's William Lyburn 6-3 in the other one.
Junior women's champ back to defend
Pembina’s Shannon Birchard will be back to defend her crown — with half a new team.
Birchard beat Victoria’s Alyssa Vandepoele — the same squad she defeated in last year’s championship match — 6-5 in the Canola Junior Women’s Berth Bonspiel in Stonewall on Sunday night.
“I can breathe a little bit easier now that we’ve got the spot,” Birchard said. “We’re going to have to go for it but anything can happen.”
Supported by new third Nicole Sigvaldason and second Sheyna Andries and returning lead Mariah Mondor, Birchard will try to defend her title at the 2013 Canola Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships, to be held in Brandon, Jan. 3-7.
“Getting back to the nationals is our goal but winning the provincials again would be great,” said Birchard, who is pleased with her new personnel. “We played well all weekend and we won our first junior (cashspiel) of the year.”
St. Vital’s Selena Kaatz and La Salle’s Kayla Curtis previously qualified through spring berth spiels. In the Canola Junior Men’s Berth Bonspiel, Pembina’s Tanner Lott clipped clubmate Daniel Birchard (Shannon’s brother) 9-6 to earn his fourth trip to the provincials.
“That’s a good team and we had to play our best to beat them,” Lott said from Stonewall.
Lott has only qualified for the playoff round once before, back in 2008, but he’s come close several times since then.
“This is my last year so we’re going to give it our best shot,” said Lott, supported by returning third Wade Ford and lead Dan Winters, along with second Ty Envik. “There are no more chances.”
West Kildonan’s defending champion Kyle Doering and St. Vital’s Matt Dunstone had already qualified through spring berth bonspiels.