Impressions from Scotties

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

At least one curler has no problem heading to the land of the sometimes vertically challenged.

Diminutive skip Kelly Scott will represent Canada at the women's world championship in Aomori, Japan next month.

"I'm actually looking forward to playing in a country where five feet (tall) might actually be the average," Scott said during a gracious thank you speech during the closing banquet in Lethbridge on Sunday night.

Nova Scotia's Muriel Fage, aka 'The Pied Piper of Curling' who has been battling cancer, was presented with the Joan Mead Legacy Award.

P.E.I. lead Stefanie Clark was given the Marj Mitchell Award for sportsmanship. And Saskatchewan skip Jan Betker got shot of the week for a key double she made against Scott in the Page playoff one-two game.

And here, without further ado, are our impressions of the first Hearts known as the Scotties played just down the highway from where they shot Brokeback Mountain.

BEST QUOTE I

Newfoundland third Shelley Nichols on her brother, Mark, winning Olympic gold as third for Brad Gushue:

"It's been great. We've got a hero in the family now. Can't you tell? I'm so pale because I'm going to be in my brother's shadow forever."

BEST QUOTE II

Skip Kerry Koe on the fact that Yukon/NWT was once known as the free space on the bingo card:

"I think everyone is realizing that they can't take us for granted. They know in the back of their minds we're a good team but still, they see the name, Northwest Territories/Yukon and you're going to think, 'Ahh.'"

MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT

Ontario skip Krista Scharf was taken to the bottom of the longest train bridge in North America, which traverses Oldman River, where her boyfriend proposed to her -- the same night she had been eliminated from the competition. And yes, she said yes.

MINT SPECIAL

An Olympic coin featuring a women's curler means that women's curling really has come of age, even if they will be playing the worlds inside a closet in Japan. Just wondering, though, why some just noticed that now when that venue was announced about two years ago?

BEST COMEBACK I

Manitoba's Jennifer Jones rebounding from a 7-1 deficit to beat the Yukon/NWT's Kerry Koe -- which tied for the biggest comeback in national women's curling history. Maybe it had something to do with the drunk in the stands beside their sheet during that match. He held up a sign that said: "I love you, Jones," along with his telephone number. Jones and third Cathy Overton-Clapham then had a giggling fit.

Jones, by the way, moved into seventh spot in all-time wins as a skip at the nationals with 39, and second amongst Manitobans.

BEST COMEBACK II

Saskatchewan skip Jan Betker's solid week after such a shaky outing at skip in 2003, even if she did lose the final.

MOST INTERESTING STORYLINE

Curling reporter-cum-war correspondent Bill Graveland covered our forces in Afghanistan. He survived a suicide bomber and a firefight with the Taliban (and yes, he was wearing a 35-pound bullet-proof vest). Still, scary stuff. And the idiot's going back!

ONE FOR THE OLD GIRLS

Both Manitoba lead Janet Arnott and Ontario lead Lorraine Lang put in solid performances in demanding positions at the age of 50. And both received all-star votes.

ONE FOR THE YOUNG GIRLS

Saskatchewan third Lana Vey, B.C. lead Darah Provencal and Nova Scotia skip Jill Mouzar were among those who showed positive signs for the future.

MOST ENGAGING INTERVIEW

Newfoundland third Shelley Nichols and Alberta skip Cheryl Bernard (tie).

MOST HONEST INTERVIEW

Manitoba third Cathy Overton-Clapham: "We were brutal," she said after the opening-game drubbing by Saskatchewan. "We got our asses kicked."

MOST NOTICEABLE ABSENCE I

Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones. Her post-game interviews will never be matched.

MOST NOTICEABLE ABSENCE II

No Jumbotron on the scoreboard which made between-end announcers even more annoying.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

P.E.I's Suzanne Gaudet coming on like gang-busters to earn a playoff spot.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Alberta's Cheryl Bernard failing to qualify for the playoffs despite playing in front of a partisan crowd.

BEST SERVICE

The drivers who shuttled people between the rink and hotel were outstanding but the absolute best service was by Robin L. in what has been voted the best sports bar in the country, Average Joe's -- and that was even before she served the first round. Thank you all.

And thanks, too, to Robin Wilson for overseeing yet another classy event. Can't wait for the encore in Regina next year.


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