Airdrie curler part of world junior curling championship team
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:38 am
When she and her team were crowned as the 2014 World Junior Curling women’s champions on March 5 in Flims, Switzerland, Airdrie’s Keely Brown says the whole experience feels like a dream.
“It sort of feels like we were never really there,” Brown said. “I remember moments from the games and certain things that we did, but it’s all such a blur for us.”
“After the final game, we were leaving Switzerland and heading back home, so everything felt like it was happening really quickly,” she added.
Brown, who is a 20-year-old nursing student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, was the third on Kelsey Rocque’s team from the Saville Sports Centre, which clinched Canada’s first title since 2003 with a 6-4 win in the finals over Keyong-ae Kim of South Korea.
“It means a lot for us to break that curse and bring the title back to Canada,” Brown said. “There have been a lot of silvers during that time for our country, with (Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion) Rachel Homan and (Olympic gold medallist) Kaitlyn Laws both coming up short.”
“So for us to be able to win the first gold medal for Canada after such a long time is a pretty special feeling,” she added.
After finishing in second place in the round-robin with a 7-2 record, the team, which also featured Taylor McDonald at second and Claire Tully at lead, advanced to the finals with a 7-6 win over South Korea in the one vs. two page playoff game on March 4.
That triumph set the stage for its win in the final, which was wrapped in the eighth end when Canada was able to steal two points and take a three-point lead.
“We weren’t as strong in the first five ends of the finals against South Korea as we were the day before, but we really stepped things up in the last five ends,” Brown said.
“It was funny how the game ended because Kelsey didn’t have to throw her last rock, so both teams just stood there for a little bit before we shook hands,” she added.
“To be honest, it took a little bit for us to realize what had happened, and I think it wasn’t until an hour that it started to sink in that we were world champions.”
After starting off the event at 2-2, the Canadians rattled off nine straight victories on its way to the title, as the team played some of its strongest games of the entire season.
“We knew that we pretty much had to win all of our games to make the playoffs, and we just played some amazing curling,” Brown said.
“The field that was there was really strong, and you had to be at the top of your game because everyone was playing their best.”
“I think our communication with one another all week helped out with that,” she added. “It was such a loud environment with all of the games going on, but we had hand signals for everything, and it felt like we were robots out there with how focused they were.”
Another key moment for the team during their gold medal run was the message of encouragement that they got via Twitter from Brad Jacobs’ curling team, which had just won the gold medal for Canada at the Winter Olympic in Sochi a week prior to the World Juniors.
“At the Olympics, their team had lost two of their first three games before winning the gold, so they had messaged us to say that they knew what we were going through and that they knew we could work through it to get the gold,” Brown said.
“To get that message from them meant a lot, along with the fact that Brad and his teammate EJ Harnden sent their congratulations after we won was pretty amazing,” she added.
Looking ahead, the Rocque rink has just two more events left in their curling season, as it will be representing the University of Alberta at the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) Championships in Regina from March 19 to 23 before wrapping up the year at the Kevin Martin Junior Bonspiel in Edmonton on April 25 to 27.
When it comes to next season, Brown’s plans are currently up in the air.
“Kelsey’s still eligible to play at the junior level for one more year, but the rest of us will be too old to play at that level,” Brown explained
“We might play together at the university level, but we really haven’t talked about what’s next for us and I think that discussion won’t happen until the season comes to an end.”