Walker, Brown cruise to opening wins at national curling trials qualifier

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Skip Laura Walker, seen here on Feb. 24, needed only eight ends to beat Team Casey Scheidegger 9-4 at an Olympic trial qualifier on Thursday in Ottawa. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Skip Laura Walker, seen here on Feb. 24, needed only eight ends to beat Team Casey Scheidegger 9-4 at an Olympic trial qualifier on Thursday in Ottawa. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Laura Walker and Corryn Brown earned victories on the opening day of the Women's Trials Direct Entry event at the RA Centre in Ottawa on Thursday.

The tournament, which runs concurrently to the men's event, offers entry to three women's teams and two men's rinks into November's Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon .

Walker took an early lead on Casey Scheidegger en route to victory, scoring two points in the first end. But Scheidegger got the points back right back in the second. However, it was all Walker from there as she scored five straight points and won 9-4 in eight ends.

"We're really excited to finally be here," said Walker. "I think we got a really good feel for the ice conditions early in that game, which gave us a bit of a leg up. And it feels awesome to have such a strong start."

The other women's game saw Brown beat Suzanne Birt 9-7. Brown started off strong going up 3-1 after three ends. The two teams went back and forth before Birt took three in the ninth end. Yet Brown rallied and scored four in the 10th to secure the win.

Each team will play four games to finalize seeding for the playoffs.

Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Kerri Einarson and Tracy Fleury have already locked up berths for the Trials.

On the men's side, Matt Dunstone earned his first victory with an 8-5 decision over Mike McEwen. Dunstone now sits at 1-1 for the tournament.

Dunstone, a two-time bronze medallist at Trials, rebounded from a loss to Glenn Howard one day earlier.

"Big one," said Dunstone. "We had a really good second half today... So after a late-night game, to bounce back the way we did today, I'm really proud of the guys for doing that."

McEwen, meanwhile, returned to the win column in the late draw winning 8-4 over Jason Gunnlaugson to improve to 2-1 for the tournament.

Elsewhere, Colton Flasch fell 8-4 to Jason Gunnlaugson before rebounding in a big way with a five-end, 9-0 blowout of Glenn Howard.

Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher, Toronto's John Epping, Brad Gushue of St. John's N.L., and Calgary's Kevin Koe have already booked tickets to Saskatoon.

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