After winning medals at last year’s Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Curling Championships, the RDC Curling teams are motivated for another successful season on the ACAC curling circuit, looking ahead to an eventual berth in nationals for the Queens and Kings.
“Once someone has a taste of nationals, it is always the goal to get back,” says Brad Hamilton, RDC Curling Head Coach, in a press release. “The Queens and Kings were in the ACAC finals last year and we will go hard this year again. The men’s division will be ridiculously competitive and so will the women’s. It will be tough.”
Last season, the Queens and Kings qualified for the national championships but missed out on the playoff round. Hamilton sees a motivated group who wants to return to the national stage, and curlers on the Queens, Kings and mixed team have been extremely eager to hit the ice and gym.
“This year there is way more fitness training at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre with Greg Howe, RDC Strength and Conditioning Coach,” adds Hamilton. “He created a specific program for the curlers and our practices have been cranking up the past couple of weeks.”
Returning to skip the defending ACAC gold medal-winning Queens is Sara McMann, who was named both the 2017-18 ACAC Female Curler of the Year and the Red Deer Bottling RDC Female Athlete of the Year. Brett Day (second) from Kyle, Saskatchewan, is returning and will be joined by a familiar face, as well as a new RDC student-athlete.
“Ashlyn (Wozny) played on the mixed team last season but is moving over to the women’s team this year,” explains Hamilton. “Hollie (Vincent), a first-year Nursing student, is new to the team and fits in well. She was quite a competitive juvenile and junior curler. I expect them to be one of the top three teams.”
There is little change from last season’s ACAC silver medalist Kings, with four of the five men back wearing the crown. Austin Kelts-Larsen (skip), Andrew Jones (third), who was a 2017-18 All-Conference team selection, Carther Snethun (second) and Shaye Copeland (co-lead) return, and will be accompanied by one new curler.
“Jordan (Smith) graduated and has moved on to teaching. We replaced him with Nic (Bonneau) who is a junior curler from B.C. and fortunately his family moved to Rocky Mountain House. He’s definitely a welcome addition to the team and will share lead with Shayne,” says Hamilton. “The men should be one of the top teams. We know who is back from the other colleges, and it should be very tough. The Kings are very motivated and have worked very hard so far.”
Hamilton has switched the positions of two talented RDC Kings, and the change provides a spark and addresses a rule change. “We felt we went a little flat at nationals last year, and we thought that we would try Andrew at third, and he’s done well there,” says Hamilton. “Carter has been on fire since he’s been playing second. With the new five rock rule, he seems to be a great fit in that spot.”
With the recent rule change, rocks in front of the rings can't be removed from play until five rocks have been thrown in an end. Previously, the rule was four rocks in the free guard zone. The change was implemented to keep more rocks in play and potentially increase scoring opportunities.
A young mixed team will look to be in the hunt for an ACAC medal after a fourth place finish last season. Jayden Mitchell (second) is the sole member back with the RDC team. Thomas Crawford (skip), Erica Watts (third), Jaycee Bourke (co-lead) and Courtney Chesterman (co-lead) are all new. “The five members of the mixed team have not curled together before so it’s nice to have Jayden back. He is very positive,” says Hamilton. “The team has been working hard and had one of their best games recently.”
The youthful recruits bring pedigree and ambition. “Thomas was the skip for the men’s high school team in Ponoka, so it’s not much of a jump for him this year. Erica used to play junior with Hollie and she has a lot of competitive curling experience, and is fitting in well,” says Hamilton. “Jaycee has curled a lot in high school, and Courtney took a year or two off, and I remember watching her curl in high school. We tried to recruit Courtney a couple of years ago, and she’s very competitive so she’s good to have on the team.”
Red Deer College will host the ACAC Fall Regional, November 23-25, at the Pidherney Curling Centre.
For more information on RDC Curling, please visit: rdcathletics.ca.
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