KINGS COUNTY- The skips of both Nova Scotia championship teams at the Kings County Canadian Masters Curling championships say they're pleased and proud to be representing their home province.
“It’s always great to represent your province,” Nova Scotia men’s skip Steve Ogden of Halifax said prior to his second game of the first day of the competition April 4.
Ogden, one of Nova Scotia‘s most decorated curlers, said this is his ninth national championship. He has competed in five mixed, one Brier, one senior and two masters.
“This year, I’m playing against a couple of skips (Alberta’s Ed Lukowich and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Gary Oke) I played against at the 1983 Brier," Ogden said.
“I’m impressed with the calibre of curling for this age," he said of the 60+ group. When I was younger, I didn’t think I’d be still curling at this level at this age.”
Ogden said the goal for he and his teammates - third Brad Meisner, second Peter Neily and lead James Barr – is to make it to the championship round.
“Once you get to the final four,” he said, “everyone is equal. It’s a matter of coming up big at the right time.”
Team Ogden opened against Team Oke from Newfoundland and Labrador, and absorbed a 7-2 loss. The Nova Scotia champions then rebounded nicely in draw three with an 8-2, seven-end victory over Louis Walsh of P.E.I.
Like Ogden, Nova Scotia women’s skip Marg Cutcliffe said she was “very proud to be representing Nova Scotia.” This is Cutcliffe’s eighth national championship – “two Scotties Tournaments of Hearts, three mixed, two seniors and now one Masters.”
Cutcliffe was impressed with “the very strong and talented women’s field” that includes “lots of past champions.”
Cutcliffe and her teammates - Karen Hennigar, Gail Hayes and Jill Linquist - split their two games on Day 1 in two matches in Wolfville.
In draw one, Cutcliffe dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker to Merle Kopach of Saskatchewan in a game that took nine ends to decide. The Nova Scotia women bounced back in convincing fashion with a 12-1 win over Ellen Johnson of the Yukon in draw three.
“Tomorrow, we play Ontario and Alberta,” Cutcliffe said Monday evening – “both very experienced teams.” Both games are likely to be good challenges for them.
“It’s wonderful to have the nationals here in Nova Scotia,” she said. “When I heard the nationals were here, it was one of the reasons I decided to participate.
“I live in Fall River, about 45 minutes away. It’s nice to just be able to drive down the road and compete at nationals. Everything so far,” she added, “has been great.”
The host team, skipped by Alan Marshall of Glooscap, got off to a disappointing start: losing 5-3 to Manitoba in draw one and then falling to 0-2 with a 5-3 loss to Keith Switzer of BC in draw three, a game that went down to the final stone.
“Two close games today,” Marshall said. “We’re 0-2, but it’s not because we aren’t trying.
"We have a tough road ahead of us now.”
Tournament co-chairperson Tony Stirling said Monday evening the event “was off to a great start. Everything went really well here today...and there was some great curling.
"There are some really good curlers here, and we’ve worked very hard to come up with the best possible ice, at both clubs.”
Action continues April 5, with draws at 10 a.m. and 2:30 and 7 p.m. at both Glooscap and Wolfville.
Team Cutcliffe plays at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in Kentville
Team Ogden at 2:30 in Wolfville
Team Marshall at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Wolfville.