Young guns ready to rock

BEN LEESON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE -- Valerie Sweeting picked one heck of a time to get on a roll.

Sweeting, a 22-year-old native of Redvers, Sask. who now lives in Vegreville, Alta., will come into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts riding the momentum of a shocking 9-7 extra-end victory over former Olympian Shannon Kleibrink in the final of their provincial championships to win her rink's first national championship berth.

Sweeting's rink, which includes third Megan Einarson, second Whitney More and lead Lindsay Makichuk, bested a field which included Cathy King and Crystal Webster to punch its ticket to Sault Ste. Marie for the Scotties.

"We didn't really expect it at all, to be honest," said Sweeting, who works as a service delivery agent at the case processing centre in Vegreville, about one hour from Edmonton. "It was our first time there and we expected we would have to pay our dues first.

"But we just took it one game at a time and we played well. We really came together as a team and we just kept rolling. We definitely surprised some people."

Beginning Jan. 30, they'll look to keep rolling at the Sault's Essar Centre, where they'll join a field that includes veterans such as Team Canada's Jennifer Jones, British Columbia's Kelly Scott, Ontario's Krista McCarville and Quebec's Eve Belisle, as well as fellow lesser-knowns such as Newfoundland and Labrador's Shelley Nichols and Nova Scotia's Nancy McConnery.

Sweeting's rink has had its current lineup together only since November, when she and her teammates finished in a tie for ninth place at the Boundary Ford Curling Classic in Lloydminster, Alta.

"It has been fun," Sweeting said. "We've been playing the best we've ever played lately."

The Scotties will mark Sweeting's first visit to Sault Ste. Marie, but she has had success curling in Ontario.

She threw third for the Saskatchewan rink, skipped by Hailey Surik, which won the women's title at the 2007 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in St. Catharines.

Round-robin action at the Scotties continues through Feb. 4, with tiebreakers, page playoffs and semifinals set to go Feb. 6 and 5.

The championship game is Feb. 7 at 2:30 p.m.


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