Visualization comes true for Thurston

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Just call her the Nostradamus of the women's curling world.

Kristen Phillips had envisioned Deer Lodge's Jill Thurston winning the Manitoba final before she had even got to Killarney.

"I truly believed we would win the province and I pictured myself at the nationals wearing Manitoba colours," Thurston's third revealed on the eve of displaying those Brown and Gold colours when the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts starts Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"I saw us playing Janet Harvey in the final and I saw Jill throw an in-turn hit to win the game. She didn't have to throw her last rock but the one before was an in-turn hit."

Thurston also claimed to be a curling mentalist, of sorts.

"We had the same vision," she said. "We knew it was going to be Janet Harvey. We had prepared ourselves for that. There was a slightly different shot in the end but it was still kind of the same. We worked with a sports psych and visualization and stuff like that. So, it really, really helped to calm our nerves because we had been there before -- in our minds."

So what, pray tell, have they foreseen for the The Soo?

"I see us playing really well and I see ourselves in the final," Phillips predicted boldly. "But I don't know who we'll be playing."

Thurston, however, was not about to go that far.

"Right now, we're just looking to make the playoffs so, we've just kind of envisioned playing well and being in that scenario and hopefully, it works out that way," she said.

Thurston has been there before -- as third for Harvey in 2006 and as an alternate for Connie Laliberte in 2000. But not only has she just returned from a two-year hiatus, the rest of her foursome will be Scotties rookies.

"I just prepared them a little bit as to what to expect when they get there," said Thurston, also supported by second Leslie Wilson and lead Raunora Westcott. "Obviously, it's a way bigger venue than what we're used to playing in and I just kind of prepared them for the crowd and for the television and all of the things that happen outside of curling ..."

Phillips has at least experienced some of what the Scotties are all about as the fifth for Manitoba's Jennifer Jones in 2007. But the front end won't know how they will react until they get on the ice.

"I'm really excited," Westcott said. "Sometimes, I feel kind of nervous but then, I throw rocks and everything feels good and then, the nerves kind of leave when you get on the ice ... It's hard to imagine. We've been to the Brier and the Scotties as spectators, but this is going to be bigger."

Wilson has had to force herself to settle down.

"My first nationals, I'm excited," she said. "I went through a stage where I was getting a little bit nervous but now, I'm just ready to play ..."

The Buffalo gals will not be the only first-timers there.

"It's a relatively new field full of some rookies, but I think it doesn't matter," Thurston said. "You have to play well the whole time in order to get to the playoffs."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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