Stacie Curtis skipped her Newfoundland and Labrador rink to a pair of wins at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women's curling championship in Penticton, B.C., on Sunday, with one of them coming at the expense of a former teammate.
In Sunday's late draw, the St. John’s rink of Curtis, Erin Porter, Julie Devereaux and Erica Trickett downed Nunanvut 10-3 to improve their preliminary-round record to 3-0. Earlier in the day, they posted an 8-5 win over an Ontario entry whose lineup includes Newfoundland native Stephanie LeDrew.
Ledrew, 33, the third for Hollie Duncan’s rink, was a member of the 2004 rink skipped by Curtis (then Stacie Devereaux) that
claimed the Newfoundland and Labrador junior women’s crown.
It was just one of a number of N.L. championships for LeDrew, who won five junior titles (1998, 2001-2004), was the third for Shelley Nichols’ rink that won the 2010 Scotties provincial women’s event and played with teams skipped by Trent Skanes (2007) and Matthew Blandford (2009) that took provincial mixed doubles banners.
Curtis knows all about representing Newfoundland at national curling events. She has skipped five provincial women’s champions — including the last three — after claiming four N.L. junior titles, including in 2007, when she guided her team to a Canadian title and a runner-up finish at the worlds.
And she was also a teammate of LeDrew’s on Skanes’ 2007 provincial mixed champs.
Last year, Curtis’s rink — with the same lineup — went 5-6 at the Scotties in St. Catharines, Ont., winning its first two games, then losing six in a row.
While Curtis is happy with the early victories in Penticton, she knows the key will be turning that into positive momentum and to not end up with anything resembling a repeat of last year.
“We talked about it a little bit before the tournament, that we were going to have to get off to a good start,” the 31-year-old told Curling Canada’s Al Cameron after beating Ontario.
“We talked about some of the things we did last year … that worked for us and got us off to a decent start, and where we faltered in the middle of the week.
“So, we’re right where we want to be.”
The Newfoundland rink has just one game today as part of its seven-game preliminary schedule. It's against Alberta, which also has a 3-0 record in Pool B.
Duncan, LeDrew and Ontario are 1-2.
LeDrew, originally from Corner Brook, moved with her family to St. John’s when she was 12. In 2011, she relocated to Ontario, where she continued to curl competitively and also served as the spare for Rachel Homan’s Canadian women’s champions in 2013 and 2014.
Altough LeDrew lives in Sarnia, the rinks she’s been with since moving to Ontario have been mostly elsewhere in the province. She played with Jill Mouzar’s Toronto entry in 2012, spared with Homan’s Ottawa rink and now is the vice-skip for Duncan (who was also with Mouzar) on another Toronto-based team.
LeDrew has also been in demand in other ways when it comes to curling, having worked as a commentator for TSN on its national coverage of the sport.
The Scotties has taken on a new format this year, expanding to 16 entries divided into two eight-team pools. There are representatives from each of the 10 provinces, three territories and Northern Ontario, along with Team Canada and a wild-card team that earned its berth by winning a play-in game.
Kerri Einarson’s Manitoba rink took that wild-card spot, with Michelle Englot and her Winnipeg-based team — last year’s Scotties runners-up — wearing the Team Canada colours. That’s because Homan and her rinkmates are not in Penticton to defend the title they won last year. Instead, they are preparing to represent Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea next month.
The top four finishers from each pool will advance to the championship round in Penticton, taking their records with them. After each team plays four crossover games, the teams with the best four overall records will move on to the Page playoffs and a chance to play for medals.
Curtis is determined to be part of the advancing group.
“I think we’re ready,” she told Cameron. “I think we’re certainly building, and I don’t think we’ve peaked yet. We still have a lot to learn. We’re still working hard, and we’ll continue to work hard until we get there. We certainly want to make it into that championship pool, and we’re well on our way.
"Still lots of work to do, but we want to be around at the end of the week.”