Manitoba skip flummoxed by fudgey ice at Scotties

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. -- Jill Thurston won the Manitoba title because she drew better than any other skip in Killarney.

Yet, she gave away her first game at the nationals when she kept pulling the string on attempted draws last night.

Team Canada's Jennifer Jones stole three when Thurston failed to hit paint with the hammer in the fourth and another three in the ninth in a similar scenario to beat her fellow Manitobans 10-5 in a Scotties Tournament of Hearts contest at the Essar Centre.

"I didn't have my draw weight," Thurston said. "The ice was completely different than it was at Hot Shots when it was lightning fast. Maybe it's a combination of people being on the ice all day and the crowd. I'm not sure what. But it was very fudgey. It was almost like it was flat and I just didn't have it.

"It just kept getting heavier and heavier as the game went on and we never caught on to that ... You've got to have draw weight all the time. Everything falls on draw weight. If you don't have draw weight, you have nothing. You're not going to win a game without draw weight. So I was definitely frustrated and I was frustrated because I felt I was throwing what I wanted to throw and I wasn't getting any results."

Thurston shot an uncharacteristic 63%, thanks to those zeroes on the scorecard.

"I thought my team played great," she said. "I don't think they missed too many shots. It was me not being able to finish off ends ... They played great and just have to continue what they're doing. And I have to pick up my game a bit."

Manitoba third Kristen Phillips leapt to her defence.

"Jill shouldn't blame herself," she said. "We're all learning out there. It's the first game and the ice is a little different and it takes time to adjust to it. We'll be fine."

Jones also struggled with reading the ice.

"There were some missed shots but that was just catching on to the ice and I'm sure both teams will get a little more precise as the week goes on," she said. "The ice is pretty good, it's just not curling as much as we would like. Maybe (today), it will have a little more finish. It makes it a little more challenging to make some shots but B.J. (Gagnon) makes good ice."

Jones shot 75% while the rest of her team was in the 80s.

"Any W's good," she said. "It's better than a loss. I thought we played OK and didn't get into too much trouble. A couple of ends got away from us and I wasn't too happy with that aspect.

"We want to get better and we want to get more precise as the week goes on. That's always the key to success. But we're pretty happy with our start."

While Jones is seeking her third straight title, it was the first Scotties appearance by Phillips, second Leslie Wilson and lead Raunora Westcott.

"It was great," said Phillips, who shot 85%. "We learned lots out there and played well as a team. If a few shots went different, we would have been right in the game."

Actually, they were in the game until Thurston's light draws.

"It was fun, I felt pretty good out there," said Wilson, adding that the Buffalo gals were not down after opening with a loss.

"Both teams had their fair share of misses, which you wouldn't normally see from them, or from us," Westcott said. "I know we can play better ... I wasn't incredibly happy with the way I played. I need to make more shots.

"We just needed that one under our belts and now we know what it feels like and it's going to be great."

Canada plays New Brunswick and Saskatchewan today. Manitoba faces Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos