Coolness under pressure belies New Brunswicker's youth

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

It's all about perspective.

When someone asks Kristen MacDiarmid about how being the youngest participant at the Scott Tournament of Hearts affects her, she looks puzzled.

"I may be young, but we've played in national junior championships before in front of big crowds. We've played in cashspiels against women's teams," she said. "This is a bonspiel, a little bigger bonspiel."

As we said, it's all about perspective.

MacDiarmid is a 19-year-old on the national curling stage. She looks much younger.

But watch her perform and she has everything an elite athlete has -- focus, intensity and the ability to learn from her surroundings.

Her teammates are 20 and despite not being part of the playoff picture, they're coolness has belied their youth.

There is no wide-eyed astonishment of their surroundings and while they have great respect for their opposition, they don't feel out of place. MacDiarmid isn't surprised.

"We have played in a lot of big events and that's helped," she said.

"I don't think about being the youngest player here. You just make the best shots you can. I don't feel any more pressure."

This team was a long shot to be here. They are former Canadian junior champions. They lost this year in the junior provincial final. Plan B had them enter the provincial playdowns, which they won.

Plan B hasn't been bad.

Early in the week, it appeared New Brunswick had a chance at the impossible. They were 4-1 at one time, before running into some problems later in the event.

But what's been encouraging is New Brunswick has been competitive in every game played. The team finished the tournament at five wins and six losses.

"The big difference is when you play in junior competitions, there are a lot of good teams, but there are a few teams that are a lot easier than others," said MacDiarmid. "But when you come here, you have to be ready for every game, because every team is good. When you make a bad shot here, you pay for it."

MacDiarmid is a student at Dalhousie University. This week, the John Labatt Centre is her classroom and she will learn a great deal.

"We haven't seen every situation like some of the people," said MacDiarmid.

"We found that we made some decisions and then thought, 'We should have done this.'

"But when it comes up again, we'll know what to do."

This won't be the last time this rink, with this much talent, will play at the Hearts.

MacDiarmid, as the third curled 75 per cent, fifth best at the tournament.

"This has been great for us," she said. "We've definitely learned a lot."


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