School is in session for students of the roaring game.
The classroom is the St. Albert Curling Club for 30 rinks at the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association championships co-hosted by the Paul Kane Blues and St. Albert Skyhawks.
“High school curling is so much different than the competitive side. It’s much more fun and it’s a good atmosphere,” said Brennin Turner, skip for the Paul Kane women and lead on the U18 and U21 teams in the inaugural St. Albert Junior Elite Development program. “In the competitive curling world basically everybody knows each other and here we’re all from different schools and we don’t really know each other very well.
“You still have to make good shots to win and there is still lots of good curlers out here but you can talk and socialize with the team you’re playing against rather than having that tension between everyone.”
Curling also brings out the best in student athletes like Turner.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s one of the lesser known sports I guess you could say, so not a lot of kids are up to date with it but all the sports at PK give us great representation of the school and you’ve got to keep that school spirit going,” said the Grade 11 curler.
Provincials started Thursday for 10 women’s, men’s and mixed rinks and the three divisions are split into two pools to determine the semifinalists.
The last round-robin draw is 7:30 a.m. today and if there are no tiebreakers the semifinals are 10:15 a.m. and the medal finals are 1 p.m.
The following rinks are representing the Skyhawks, Morinville Wolves and Paul Kane at provincials.
Skyhawks – men (metro Edmonton): Nicolas Oake, David Howes, Chase Lozinsky, Owen Pacholok.
Skyhawks/Paul Kane – mixed (hosts): Jarrod Sokul and Mary Babichuk of the Skyhawks and Owen Woollam and Quenie Mak of Paul Kane.
Morinville – men (North Central): Cole Rivard, Jordan Gurba, Enoch Dalton, Joel Meunier.
Paul Kane – men (hosts): Andrew Nowell, Carson Davis, Tanner Schnirer, Ryan Boljkovac.
Paul Kane – women (hosts): Turner, Anna Smith, Seraphina Wong, Emmarie Brown.
“It’s really nice to have home-ice advantage,” Turner said.
The lady Blues are the metro Edmonton zone finalists after losing 6-5 in the A playoff bracket of the five-team double elimination playdowns to the Bev Facey Falcons and the winning skip was Quinn Prodaniuk, who is Turner’s U18 and U21 teammate.
“It was super close. We played against the same team as we did last year in the zone finals and they made a really good shot with their skip’s first shot and it was pretty hard to beat that shot,” said Turner of the match that was tied up entering the last end and Facey holding the hammer. “It’s a tough loss but that’s the way it goes.”
On the junior circuit, Turner is the lead for skip Emily Bartz, Prodaniuk at third and second Erin Tester on the U18 team and skip Taitan Hagglund, third Rebecca Bartz and Prodaniuk at second on the U21 team.
When asked what position Turner likes best, the 16-year-old replied: “Definitely lead. Skipping is freezing. I’m a very cold person and it’s cold just to stand there. I also love to sweep.”
Turner is the lone St. Albert curler on the U21 squad that qualified for the provincials in January as the C-event winners at northerns.
“It was our first NACA badge and we were super excited to get it,” Turner said. ”We kind of went into (northerns) as the underdogs. We hadn’t won a lot all season and not really thinking we were going to make it through.”
The C final against Kelsie Leeder of the Derrick was decided in an extra end after the Hagglund foursome counted five in four to lead 7-1. Leeder stole the tying point in 10 and the next end Hagglund drew to the button for the win.
“We didn’t celebrate. We were in shock. We were like – Oh, we’re going to provincials,” said Turner, who had issues with pneumonia at provincials as the team finished with two wins.
Next month, the Hagglund rink is headed to Sweden with a junior men’s team from Calgary as the first Canadian reps with the Over The Pond junior curling exchange as the top female team at the 2017 Marc Kennedy Junior Classic while curling out of the Avonair.
Over The Pond is a joint initiative by Kennedy – two-time Olympian and gold medallist at the 2010 Winter Games, three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion – and the Nordic Junior Curling Tour.
Games are scheduled in Stockholm and on arena ice in Ostersund.
“It’s super exciting,” Turner said.
Two U18 teams from Norway and Sweden through the Over The Pond initiative will be competing at the third annual Kennedy Classic, presented by Sarasota Homes & Realty, March 23 to 25 at the St. Albert and Jasper Place curling clubs.
‘We’re going to hang out with them,” said Turner of the Hagglund rink that is entered in the 52-team recreation, intermediate, U18 and U21 bonspiel.
Curling plays an important role in Turner’s life.
“I come from a pretty big curling family so I started out pretty young and I’ve been curling here in St. Albert all of my life. It’s just a fun atmosphere. It’s such a small community and you get to know everyone. You make lifelong friends playing.”