Shooting for the top

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

The face of women's curling in Canada is changing. And it isn't just the crop of unknowns such as Tracy Streifel from Saskatchewan or Krista Scharf from Ontario.

It's the way they're bringing it.

Alberta champion Cathy King, heading to her seventh Scott Tournament of Hearts, can feel the pressure.

"When I think about some of the teams we've played over the last year, I think the game is becoming way more aggressive," said the Edmonton skip, who starts the round-robin Saturday in London, Ont., against Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones. "Whether that's due to ice condition, I don't know, but I do see more teams being more aggressive."

But it's OK, because her teammates are responding in kind. Third Lori Armitstead and second Raylene Rocque can come up with the big shots when they need to.

At the provincials in Edmonton last month, Rocque tossed a triple takeout in the fifth end to get King out of a whole heap of trouble during the championship game against Grande Prairie's Renee Sonnenberg. King then cruised to an 8-2 victory.

Armitstead hit a crucial triple in the ninth against defending Scott champ Jennifer Jones during the final of the Strauss Canada Cup in Kamloops, B.C., earlier this month. King won the crown and the $36,500 booty with a 10-9 win.

Their recent experiences makes King confident she could win her second national title.

"For one thing," she said, "it's the girls' second time there. There isn't so much to think about as far as the distractions you have to prepare them for. They've been there and done that.

"They know what to look for and they're playing with a lot more confidence nowadays."

At the first Scott for Armitstead, Rocque and lead Tracy Bush last year, King logged a 6-5 round-robin record and then lost 5-3 to Ontario's Jenn Hanna in a tiebreaker.

"We played fairly well last year," King said. "But we were one of the more defensive teams. When you're playing some teams, that can be OK. But we lost five games on last rock and we didn't score a lot of multiple-point ends. Maybe we won't play so defensively this time."

Of course, she should be familiar with the opposition, too.

At the Canada Cup, King faced provincial champions Kelly Scott of B.C. and Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador. King lost 8-6 to Scott and beat Strong 7-5.

Plus, there's a handful of returnees from the 2005 Scott.

"I think there are five or six of us back," King said. "There are a few new ones who haven't been there, like Streifel, but we played her a few times in Saskatchewan and they are a very good team."

Back for a shot at her seventh national title, Colleen Jones represents Halifax after struggling at last year's Scott in St. John's, N.L. She will be making her 20th appearance at the national championship.

"We looked at last year and saw what we were doing wrong and how we can make that better," the two-time world champ told Canadian Press.

Jennifer Jones is back for a third time but her first as Team Canada skip, beating Hanna with 'The Shot,' an in-off takeout to score four.

The 'other' Jones, a lawyer from Winnipeg, said she's excited at the prospect of back-to-back Scott titles.

"It would be amazing and we've had just such a great year," she said. "It's been so much fun. You just want it to keep going so we're going to go out and play as hard as we can and, hopefully, give ourselves a shot."


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