The curling fraternity is large, but also close.
And so it was by word of mouth and the magic of social media that Red Deer’ Whitney Eckstrand (nee More) joined forces with Amy Nixon, Nadine Chyz and Tracy Bush to form a competitive quartet for the 2012-13 season.
“At the end of last season Amy decided she was going to try skipping again and everybody just came together. Messages were sent back and forth and it all worked out,” Eckstrand said on Friday at the newly-renovated Red Deer Curling Centre, where she and her teammates opened the Red Deer Classic with a 6-2 loss to Deanna Doig of Kronau, Sask., and then fell 9-4 to Val Sweeting of Edmonton in an evening draw.
The members of the foursome were familiar to each other prior to forming a union. Eckstrand, in fact, curled with Chyz last winter.
Nixon and Chyz, who throws third stones, live in Calgary, while second Eckstrand and lead Bush reside in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake, respectively. The Red Deer Classic is the team’s fourth World Curling Tour event of the season and so far the foursome has netted $3,600, of which $3,000 was earned by reaching the semifinals of the MNP Charity Classic at Medicine Hat Oct. 12-15.
“The first two ‘spiels were definitely about getting to know each other, what our tendencies were, how people threw and where we should play,” said Eckstrand. “At Medicine Hat, we definitely started to see a little more success from the work we’ve been putting in. We made some strides there so that was nice to see.”
The team is top-heavy in successful experience. Eckstrand won the 2010 Alberta women’s championship as a member of Sweeting’s foursome and Nixon was the long-time third for Shannon Kleibrink and represented Alberta in the 2004 Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Centrium.
In addition, Bush curled with Cathy King for several years and Chyz is a decorated curler at the junior level.
“I think this team has a lot of potential,” said Eckstrand. “We are gelling really well. We get along really well on and off the ice and that’s a plus, especially on the women’s side. So yes, there is talent here. It just has to come together and we’ll continue to work hard to make that happen.”
Considering the circumstances — with the first rock at the new Curling Centre delivered at 9 a.m. Friday — Eckstrand was impressed with the ice conditions.
“For being as green as it pretty much could be, the ice is great,” she said. “I’ve noticed that staff here has been working their tails off to make sure everything was ready for today. I don’t think we can ask for much more than we’re getting.”
As for the new facility, in general . . .
“It looks great in here, I’m excited about it,” said Eckstrand. “It’s about time that Red Deer had a new facilty and this is great. They did a great job here, it looks so different.”
Meanwhile, Jocelyn Peterman’s defending Canadian junior women’s championship foursome of Red Deer opened with a 7-6 win over Trish Paulsen of Saskatoon and followed up with a 7-3 victory over Manuela Siegrist of Switzerland.
• Rob Armitage and his defending Canadian senior men’s championship foursome from Red Deer was 0-1 in the men’s division, losing 7-3 to Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton.
Action resumed today at 12:15 p.m. at the Curling Centre and Michener Hill and the $33,000 cashspiel concludes with Monday’s finals at 3 p.m.
Friday’s scores (Curling Centre and Michener Hill):
9 a.m. — A event: Jennifer Jones 7 Lindsay Makichuk 0; Jocelyn Peterman 7 Trish Paulsen 6; Manuel Siegrist 5 Shannon Kleibrink 4; Tiffany Steuber 9 Allison MacInnes 5; Chelsea Carey 7 Tiffany Game 6; Tanilla Doyle 5 Mirjam Ott 4; Crystal Webster 7 Anna Sidorova 2; Marilou Richer 4 Brett Barber 3.
12:15 p.m. — A event: Ayumi Ogasawara 7 Val Sweeting 5; Laura Crocker 5 Lisa Eyamie 4; Renee Sonnenberg 7 Michele Jaeggi 4; Barb Spencer 8 Leslie Rogers 3; Heather Jensen 7 Jill Thurston 5; Kelly Wood 5 Cheryl Bernard 2; Silvana Tirinzoni 5 Holly Whyte 3; Deanna Doig 6 Amy Nixon 4.
3:30 p.m. — A event: Richter 4 Webster 3; Peterman 7 Siegrist 3; Carey 6 Doyle 3; Jones 7 Steuber 3; B event: MacInnes 7 Makichuk 2; Sidorova 9 Barber 0; Kleibrink 7 Paulsen 5; Game 6 Ott 4.
7 p.m. — A event: Spencer 7 Wood 2; Agasawara 7 Doig 0; Sonnenberg 7 Crocker 3; Tirinzoni 5 Jensen 4; B event: Thurston 8 Whyte 2; Bernard 4 Rogers 3; Eyamie 6 Jaeggi 5; Sweeting 9 Nixon 4.
9 a.m. — A event: Rui Liu 7 Trevor Perepolkin 1; Brendan Bottcher 7 Rob Armitage 3; Kevin Park 7 Brock Virtue 4; Joel Jordison 5 Justin Sluchinski 4; Tom Appelman 6 Josh Heidt 4; Wade White 5 Randie Shen 4.
12:15 p.m. — A event: Charley Thomas 6 Rick McKague 0; Leon Moch 6 Jamie Koe 5; Darren Moulding 4 Steve Petryk 2; Mathew Blandford 5 Sven Michel 4; Warren Cross 8 Dejia Zou 5; Sean O’Connor 6 Scott Manners 5.
3:30 p.m. — A event: Jordison 5 Bottcher 4; White 7 Park 4; Kevin Koe 6 Nathan Connolly 3; Appelman 7 Liu 6; B Event: Virtue 3 Shen 2; Perepolkin 7 Heidt 4.
7 p.m. — A event: Matt Willerton 8 Kevin Yablonski 3; Blandford 7 Thomas 5; O’Connor 5 Cross 3; Moulding 7 Moch 4; B event: Manners 7 Zou 4; McKague 6 Michel 3.