Local curler under the bright lights for the first time

Red Deer Curler Amy Janko is the lead for the Delia DeJong rink at the Humpty’s Champions Cup

Red Deer native Amy Janko is living out one her curling dreams this week in Calgary.

On arena ice, curling in the Humpty’s Champions Cup, a Grand Slam of Curling stop for the first time in her curling career– and even an appearance on TV Thursday.

Janko, 28, is the lead for the Delia DeJong team, who through draw seven are 2-1 at the event and in the hunt for the playoffs after back-to-back wins over Switzerland and Japan.

“I think it’s every competitive curlers’ dream to get invited to play at one of these. It’s still a little surreal. But I think we can play with the best of them,” she said.

“Today we were on TV so that’s kind of everything I’ve hoped for.”

The DeJong crew qualified for the 15-team slam event in November in Red Deer, when they topped Japan in the final of the Red Deer Classic which is a World Curling Tour event. From that bonspiel, Japan, skipped by Satsuki Fujisawa won bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

The DeJong crew were able to beat Japan 7-4 on Thursday in the Humpty’s Champions Cup, a big accomplishment in the eyes of Janko.

“First game, just getting used to throwing on arena ice. Quite a bit keener, quite a bit of swing. Second game definitely a lot better and then better today,” she said.

The DeJong team also comes into the event with a unique mix, as Delia calls the shots as the skip, but her daughter Janais throws the final stones. Janko said it’s just something that works for them.

“I’ve always played Womens with Delia and then Janais is out of junior now, so once she aged out of junior, she started playing with us,” Janko said.

“They’re really easy to get along with and easy to play for. Delia’s got a great strategy at the back end and Janais is throwing a great last stone.”

Janko won Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference bronze with the RDC Queens and then went on to play for the University of Alberta Pandas. She got her start in curling from a young age and has just kept pushing the sport as far as she could.

“My grandpa got me started and we started young… I think I started when I was seven or eight and just really loved it from the start,” she said.

Janko is curling nearly 80 per cent through three games as the lead for her team.

This weekend Janko is also bumping shoulders with Olympians like Jennifer Jones and Rachel Homan but said despite the calibre, still believes they have what it takes to win in Calgary.

The better they do this weekend, the bigger the curling invitations get and the more sponsorships that ideally will roll in.

“If we do really well and maybe we’re in a semi or a final, next year you’re getting invited to more of these and you’re playing at the top level,” she said.

You can Janko and her rink in action tonight at 8 p.m. against Chelsea Carey. For live scores head to www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/champions-cup/2018-humptys-champions-cup-womens-scores/

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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