Alberta skips look to end gold medal drought

Brendan Bottcher and Jocelyn Peterman are hoping to end Canada’s gold medal drought at the world junior curling championships.

Brendan Bottcher and Jocelyn Peterman are hoping to end Canada’s gold medal drought at the world junior curling championships.

The Alberta skips, who open play at the tournament in Ostersund, Sweden on Saturday, will try to bring home the gold for Canada for the first time since 2003.

“We’ve had our fair share of silver already so we’re working for gold, that’s for sure,” said 18-year-old Peterman, a native of Red Deer.

While Canada is always among the favourites on the international stage, Bottcher says other teams keep getting better.

“The Canadian teams just have great training and great coaches and that’s sort of why there’s the expectation that they’re going to win,” the 20-year-old Edmonton skip said.

“But there’s a lot of really good teams coming out of the European countries. A lot if has to do with Canadian coaches going overseas . . . and just the sport in general has had more exposure.”

Both Bottcher and Peterman feel the pressure that goes along with wearing the Maple Leaf.

“I try not to think about that, I just try to play our game,” Peterman said in a recent interview. “People say we have a target on our backs but we just play our game as best as we can.”

The women made the final the last three years but lost each time, last year to Scotland’s Eve Muirhead.

The men haven’t even been in a final since 2009.

Bottcher says if they stick to their game and don’t get distracted, there’s no reason why they can’t make the playoffs. But they’ll have to see what happens after that.

“It’s because there’s been a lot of really strong teams and you definitely can’t take anyone lightly,” said Bottcher.

Bottcher, along with third Evan Asmussen, second Landon Bucholz and lead Bryce Bucholz, open play Saturday against China.

Peterman, third Brittany Tran, second Rebecca Konschuh and lead Kristine Anderson play their first game against the Czech Republic. They face defending champion Scotland — skipped by Hannah Fleming this year — in Saturday’s evening draw.

The semifinals are set for March 10 with the medal games slated for March 11.

It’s the second straight year one province has been represented at the world championship after Braeden Moskowy and Trish Paulsen of Saskatchewan advanced to the 2011 event.

Moskowy lost the third-place match last year to Norway’s Steffen Mellemseter, with Sweden’s Oskar Eriksson beating Switzerland to take the gold.

Both Bottcher and Peterman describe their style as aggressive.

Bottcher, a chemical engineering student at the University of Alberta, also won the 2010 Alberta junior title and says that, and curling at the men’s level, have helped build confidence.

“The experience of two years ago definitely helped at the national level this year,” he said.

Peterman, studying physical education at Mount Royal University, is a junior veteran as well with two silver and one gold at the Alberta juvenile championships plus bronze, silver and gold at the provincial juniors.

Bottcher says if he were to pick a curler as his favourite right now it would be veteran Alberta skip Kevin Martin.

“Just his composure and the way he handles the game is remarkable,” he said.

Peterman breaks with provincial allegiances to praise Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones, one of Canada’s most successful women on ice.

“We’re big fans of her,” said Peterman.