Manitoba goes unbeaten to capture Canadian junior women’s curling title

LANGLEY, B.C. — It was a Manitoba sweep at the Canadian junior curling championships.

Manitoba third Karlee Burgess captured a record third Canadian women’s junior title on Sunday, helping Mackenzie Zacharias’s team earn a 10-3 victory over Alberta’s Abby Marks in the final.

Zacharias’s rink went 11-0 at the tournament to claim gold.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s Jacques Gauthier, Burgess’ boyfriend, toppled Newfoundland and Labrador’s Daniel Bruce 8-6 in the men’s final.

Burgess, 21, was on two national championship teams from Nova Scotia (2016 with Mary Fay and 2018 with Kaitlyn Jones) before moving to Manitoba last summer.

“It’s pretty special. I moved halfway across Canada to play with these girls and coming out with a win here is pretty exciting. I can’t believe it actually,” said Burgess, whose Manitoba rink also includes second Emily Zacharias and lead/vice-skip Lauren Lenentine.

Manitoba’s angle takeout for four in the eighth blew open a tight game, giving Zacharias’ rink an 8-3 lead.

It was Manitoba’s 10th Canadian junior women’s championship, matching Alberta’s total, which is one back of leading Saskatchewan.

It marked Manitoba’s first women’s gold since Kaitlyn Lawes won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.

“It hasn’t sunk in completely yet. It’ll probably take a couple days,” said Mackenzie Zacharias. “I still can’t believe that my name is going to be on the back of a Canadian jacket. That’s been my dream forever, and I can’t believe it’s really coming true.”

Gauthier, backed up by vice-skip Jordan Peters, second Brayden Payette and lead Zack Bilawka, never trailed on Sunday, taking one in the first end, stealing two in the third and one more in the fourth.

Burgess and Gauthier will represent Canada in the world junior championships, starting Feb. 15 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

“At the end of the day, it’s another tournament, and we just have to try to win it,” said Gauthier. “We won’t have to try any harder than we did here. We just have to play really well and we’ll see what happens.”

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