A prelude to the Canadian Stick Curling Championship in St. Albert is underway at the Ellerslie Curling Club.
A large contingent of St. Albert stick curlers are giving it their best shot at provincials and several of the 24 two-person teams in the championship tournament are confirmed for the April 2 to 5 open nationals, presented by the Canadian Stick Curling Association.
The 48-team draw for nationals includes the 2018 Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia champions.
St. Albert hosted the 10th annual open nationals in 2014.
The local duo of Tony VanBrabant and Scott Holland, winners of the 2017 Alberta Stick Curling Championship trophy sponsored by Milt and June McDougall of St. Albert, are among the favourites at Ellerslie.
Warren Fleury and Mike McMullan, the consolation side champions at the 11th annual International Wheelchair Curling Bonspiel in November at Richmond, B.C., also curl in St. Albert and are competing at Ellerslie in preparation for the Alberta Wheelchair Curling Championship next weekend at the North Hill Curling Club in Calgary.
The Jennifer Scott rink of St. Albert was the A winner in the women’s senior (50-plus) northern playdowns last weekend at the Thistle.
Scott, third Anne Lopushinsky, second Gwenyth Turner and lead Diane Greening prevailed 4-3 over Deb Santos in the A final of the seven-rink draw.
Santos, third Leanne Telford, second Lil Grabinsky and lead Teri Tralnberg stole the tying point in eight and Scott scored the winner in the extra end.
The third St. Albert women’s rep at northerns was the Kathy Piper rink of third Sandy Sadoway, second Laurie Conrad and lead Cindy Bobowik and in the C final lost 8-2 as Laurie Knoll of Jasper Place stole three in five to end the game.
In the A bracket, Piper lost 6-2 in seven ends to Scott and in the B bracket dropped a 7-2 decision in six ends to Knoll.
In the men’s 23-rink draw, the provincial qualifiers were Mark Johnson (Gary Greening, Doug Marks and Lance Dealy) of the Crestwood in A, Glen Hansen (Dean Ross, Don Bartlett and George Parsons) of the Saville Centre in B and Wade White (Barry Chwedoruk, Dan Holowaychuk and George White) of Lac La Biche in C.
The White foursome is anchored by Holowaychuk, a St. Albert Curling Club wall of fame member and the super sub for the Ferbey Four.
The defending national champions will represent Canada at worlds, April 21 to 28 in Oestersund, Sweden.
Last year’s senior nationals was the second for Holowaychuk and White after bringing home bronze in 2013 curling with Parsons and third Doug McLennan of St. Albert.
This year’s provincials are Feb. 14 to 18 at Coaldale and nationals are March 24 to 29 in Stratford, Ont.