Team Walker earns spot at Canadian Olympic curling trials with win over Team Brown

·4 min read
Laura Walker, pictured at a previous event, booked her ticket to the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon after her team claimed an 8-4 win over Team Brown at the trials direct-entry event in Ottawa on Sunday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Laura Walker, pictured at a previous event, booked her ticket to the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon after her team claimed an 8-4 win over Team Brown at the trials direct-entry event in Ottawa on Sunday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The women's and men's fields for the Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon are getting a little more clear after two bonspiels this weekend in Ottawa.

Edmonton's Kelsey Rocque and Laura Walker as well as Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., have all booked their tickets to the prairie city for the trials in late-November after finishing in the top-three of the trials direct-entry event.

The three teams join already qualified Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., Ottawa's Rachel Homan and Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones.

Scheidegger was the first women's team to earn their spot with a victory over B.C.'s Corryn Brown on Saturday.

"We are ecstatic to be back at the trials. It's been a very long off-season for us, but we did as much as we could off the ice," Scheidegger told CBC Sports.

"With the help of our coach, Joan [McCusker], we worked on team dynamics, communication and mental preparation. I feel as though this really paid off for us, and we are excited to continue building on all that we've started."

After starting 2-0, Walker lost her next two games and needed a Sunday victory over Brown to earn a spot in Saskatoon.

After dropping the first game to Brown 9-8 in the extra end, it came down to a final showdown between the same two teams later on Sunday to decide the final spot.

But with the pressure on, Walker was able to pick up an 8-4 win and advance to the Olympic trials.

While there were three trials spots available on the women's side with five teams competing, only two spots were available on the men's side.

McEwen, Dunstone lock up spots

Winnipeg's Mike McEwen and Regina's Matt Dunstone both locked up their spots at the Olympic trials with both teams finishing with 5-1 records.

It wasn't easy for both foursomes in their final games with Dunstone picking up an 8-6 victory over Howard in an extra end, while McEwen eked out a 9-8 win over Gunnlaugson.

"This means a lot. This past year I think we all have dealt with a lot of pressure and life anxiety," McEwen lead Colin Hodgson told CBC Sports.

"Qualifying for the trials relieves a lot of that pressure and gives clarity to what's coming ahead rather than uncertainty. Earning our spot is a massive confidence boost and a relief to know we belong with Canada's best. We were prepared for the direct-entry and we will now prepare for the trials with more motivation than ever."

Dunstone, who curls out of Regina, will no doubt have the home crowd behind his foursome with the trials taking place in Saskatoon.

"After playing in the bubble last year in front of no fans, we are incredibly excited to be able to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the greatest curling fans in the world cheering us on and sharing this moment with us," Dunstone told CBC Sports.

'Closer to our final goal'

Dunstone's foursome has finished third in the past two Briers.

"It obviously feels great to get our spot and it allows us two full months to prepare. This has been in the works the last three and a half years and it feels great to be one step closer to our final goal and that is to be Olympic gold medallists for Canada and Saskatchewan."

Dunstone and McEwen join Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher, Toronto's John Epping, Brad Gushue of St. John's N.L., Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario, and Calgary's Kevin Koe.

The final two women's and men's teams that will earn spots to the Olympic trials will be determined at a last-chance qualifier in Liverpool, N.S. in late-October.

The 14 women's teams competing in Liverpool include:

  • Team Sherry Anderson (Saskatoon)

  • Team Penny Barker (Moose Jaw, Sask.)

  • Team Suzanne Birt (Charlottetown)

  • Team Jill Brothers (Liverpool, N.S.)

  • Team Hollie Duncan (Woodstock, Ont.)

  • Team Jacqueline Harrison (Dundas, Ont.)

  • Team Danielle Inglis (Mississauga, Ont.)

  • Team Krista McCarville (Thunder Bay, Ont.)

  • Team Jestyn Murphy (Mississauga, Ont.)

  • Team Beth Peterson (Winnipeg)

  • Team Darcy Robertson (Winnipeg)

  • Team Mackenzie Zacharias (Altona, Man.)

  • Team Kerry Galusha (Yellowknife, NT.)

  • Team Corryn Brown (Kamloops, B.C.)


The 14 men's teams competing in Liverpool include:

  • Team Jonathan Beuk (Formerly Team Scott McDonald; Kingston, Ont.)

  • Team Braden Calvert (Winnipeg)

  • Team Pat Ferris (Grimsby, Ont.)

  • Team Colton Flasch (Saskatoon)

  • Team Paul Flemming (formerly Team Jamie Murphy; Halifax)

  • Team Mike Fournier (Montreal)

  • Jason Gunnlaugson (Winnipeg)

  • Team Jeremy Harty (Calgary)

  • Team Glenn Howard (Penetanguishene, Ont.)

  • Team Pat Simmons (Formerly Team Tanner Horgan; Winnipeg)

  • Team Karsten Sturmay (Edmonton)

  • Team Tyler Tardi (Langley, B.C.)

  • Team Vincent Roberge (Etchemin, Que.)

  • Team Sean Grassie (Winnipeg)

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