Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Women's Pre-Olympic Trials

by Keith Borkowsky, The Curling Guy

As promised, here's a look at the women's pre-trials, which open today at Prince George, B.C. Like the men's draw, four teams will advance to the Roar of the Rings in Edmonton.

1. Kelly Scott, Kelowna, B.C. (25-9 in 2009-10 World Curling Tour games)
Scott, with third Jeanna Schraeder, second Sasha Carter and lead Jacquie Armstrong, recovered from a dismal 2008-09 eith one of the best 2009-10 results around. She's made two finals, won the Manitoba Lotteries Women's Classic and appears to be rolling at the right time. She'll face the winner of the eight vs nine game.

2. Sherry Middaugh, Coldwater, Ont. (9-8)
The only top-four seed without a payday, Middaugh, third Kirsten Wall, second Kim Moore and lead Andra Harmark, could make that point moot with a couple of wins this week. She gets the winner of the seven vs 10 matchup, and could lose if Amber Holland advances to that game.

3. Marie-France Larouche, St. Romuald, Que. (8-5)
One of the most enigmatic teams in the field. The past Quebec champion is joined by third Nancy Belanger, second Annie Lemay and lead Joelle Sabourin. They face a tough quarter-final matchup in either Homan or Belisle. If it's Belisle, there's some history as Belisle eliminated Larouche from the Shorty Jenkins Classic 7-6.

4. Michelle Englot, Regina, Sask. (9-11)
For most of the year, Englot has failed to make a mark. Reaching the quarters at the Colonial Square Classic netted the team of third Deanna Doig, second Roberta Materi and lead Cindy Simmons their only payday in four tries. The plus? It came in their most recent event. They will face the winner of the five vs 12 game.

Ranked by first round matchups, here's the rest of the A-side draw.

5. Heather Rankin, Calgary, Alta. (12-14) vs 12. Sherry Anderson, Delisle, Sask, (12-14)
The only real difference between these two squads is Rankin's won some cash. Her team of third Lisa Eyamie, second Heather Jensen and lead Kyla MacLaughlan have earned $3,700, with $3,500 coming from losing a quarter-final at the Schmirler Charity Curling Classic.
A former Saskatchewan champion, Anderson, third KIm Hodson, second Heather Walsh and lead Donna Gignac have played five events. Success has not followed, as they have only cashed in for $300 this year. Unless her fortunes change, she will likely be an early casualty.

6. Rachel Homan, Ottawa, Ont. (7-0) vs 11. Eve Belisle, Montreal, Que. (10-6)
By far the youngest team here, Homan, 20, with third Emma Miskew, 20, second Allison Kreviazuk, 21, and Lynn Kreviazuk, 18, have not played a ton heading into the Trials. Not sure why that is, but in Manitoba, there is a shortage of cashspiels for elite teams to compete at, leaving them with few options other than a heavy travel schedule to plat the best, or play locally. She qualified after a super 2008-09 campaign. She's only played the Shorty Jenkins Classic in September. She won it and beat her first round opponent, Eve Belisle, in the final.
Backed up by third Brenda Nicholls, second Martine Comeau and lead Julie Rainville, Belisle's best success came at the Shorty Jenkins. She's been paid twice in three events. Could be a an upset special if she gets going.

7. Crystal Webster, Calgary, Alta. (13-9) vs 10. Amber Holland, Kronau, Sask. (21-8)
Webster, with third Lori Olson-Johns, second Samantha Preston and lead Stephanie Malekoff lost a semifinal at the Twin Anchors Invitational in October.
Holland, with third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider and lead Heather Seeley, beat Kelly Scott in the Schmirler Charity Curling Classic and were top-eight qualifiers in three events out of four. The edge goes to Holland, based on her record.

8. Cathy King, Edmonton ( 19-11) vs 9. Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont. (6-2)
King, with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Raylene Rocque and lead Tracy Bush has earned cheques in three of five events, winning the CurlTV.com September Shootout.
McCarville has to battle geography to get competition. Her team of third Tara George, second Kari MacLean and lead Lorraine Lang made the semis in their only event of the season, the Manitoba Lotteries Women's Curling Classic. This one's a toss up. Both are former provincial champions, with King adding a Canadian title in 1998.

King, Holland, Scott and one team of your choice will advance. The fourth team could be McCarville, or Homan, but the B- and C-side draws will play a role on who gets the last spot.

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