ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- It would almost seem to be an unfair advantage for one side. When the Winnipeg team takes the ice to play British Columbia at the Scott Tournament of Hearts this morning at 7 o'clock, there will be Manitobans everywhere.
Six of them in fact. Four wearing the Buffalo on their backs and two transplanted 'Tobans now playing for B.C.
CANADIAN AND JUNIOR TITLES
Kelly Scott of Kelowna and her second Sasha Carter are both originally from Manitoba and, in fact, won Canadian and world junior curling titles playing out of Winnipeg in 1995.
Scott moved west with her family in 1996 and Carter followed her best friend in 2000, immediately rekindling the curling magic they established on the ice at home.
They are competing in their first Canadian women's championship this week and are 2-1. They are also looking forward to playing Manitoba and skip Jennifer Jones (3-0), with whom they have a history.
And there will be no sympathy for their old home province when the rocks start to roll.
"Uh-uh, that's out the window," Scott said after losing her first game of the tournament yesterday, 8-5 to Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton.
Scott played lead and Jones third for Jill Staub when Manitoba made it to the final of the 1991 Canadian junior championship. In 1994, Jones, her current second Jill Officer and fifth Trisha Eck, beat Scott and Carter in the Manitoba junior final and in 1995, Scott got a measure of revenge by beating Jones in the Canadian semifinal.
Jones had been placed in the 1995 Canadian semifinal after a CCA ruling prevented her team from competing in the world championship. Scott, known as Kelly McKenzie at the time, made sure Jones never got her chance on the world stage.
"It has taken 10 years to get back to something like this, so there's no revenge, I hope," said Carter, who is originally from Ashern.
Scott, 27, and Jones, 30, have both emerged as strong contenders at the Canadian championship this year, and the B.C. skip credits experience both players gained more than a decade ago.
"Manitoba was a wonderful place to learn to curl and it just draws you into the sport because there is so much excitement in that province," Scott said. "I remember going through the gas station and people would recognize you because it's such a curling province.
"I think Manitoba is so strong and has so many good teams that you do have to swim with the sharks, so to speak.
"It puts you up against the best of the best and you have to bring yourself up to that level quickly."
All this brings up an interesting conundrum for at least one Manitoba family. Carter's parents would normally be Buffalo backers, but in this situation ...
"I think bloodlines might be a little thicker, so I'm hoping they'll be cheering for B.C.," Carter said.
Jones is also looking forward to today's reunion.
"Since (Scott) moved away we lost touch, but she's a great person and I would consider her a friend," Jones said. "She has come a long way, and she went on to win the world juniors, so obviously she's a great player and has a great team."
Scott pointed out that perhaps Manitoba curling fans didn't know just how good they had it back in the mid-1990s.
"Basically it's a sign of how strong the juniors were in Manitoba back in those years, the fact that so many of us are here this year representing various provinces," she said.