Little rest does not deter a Sunday run for Team Croisier
by Randy Pascal
In the realm of competitive curling, every bonspiel, every playdown should provide something of a learning experience, the opportunity to self-evaluate
and understand more about yourself, as a curler, as a team.
For the Idylwylde U18 rink of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier and Lauren Rajala, the takeaway from last weekend’s Phoenix
Slam hosted by the Kitchener-Waterloo Granite Club might well have been that the value of a good night’s sleep is vastly overrated.
The locals followed up a long and tough Saturday stretch, winning only one of their three games and completing their day shortly after midnight, with a
very early tie-breaker on Sunday morning.
Three straight victories, however, would propel the girls to a late afternoon final, with a close 7-6 loss to a talented Niagara Falls rink skipped by
Katie Ford not likely to take the luster off a run to remember.
A solid 5-1 win over Team Doig on Friday would give way to a pair of single point setbacks on Saturday, falling 4-3 to Veronica Bernard
(Elmira) and 7-6 to Sarah Madden (Guelph). In between, the northern quartet squeezed in a 5-2 triumph over Team Dudt, their 2-2 record good
enough to force a tie-breaker contest.
“Honestly, people that haven’t tried curling think that it’s an easy sport, and there’s not much to it, but if you’re playing four games on five hours
of sleep, it’s really difficult,” noted Rajala, with a laugh. “A lot of our off-ice mental and physical training really helped,” added Piper Croisier. “And
you get more ice time than some of the other teams.”
That momentum was apparent as the Croisier rink eliminated Doig (4-3), Bernard (9-4) and Maddy Warriner (Oakville – 6-4) on Sunday, before
settling for second place and a little shut-eye on the drive home. Considering the girls were playing in their first ever bonspiel with this particular
collection of talent, together on a team, the initial feedback proved extremely positive.
“Jamie had spared for us one night last year in the All Sorts League,” recalled Piper Croisier. “She’s been a long-time competitor, so we’ve
curled against her quite a bit. She is very positive, and one of our main goals is just to have fun on the ice. It’s a bit of a different dynamic this
year, because Lauren is moving from vice to front end, with me.”
“I was kind of looking forward to sweeping,” said Rajala. Splitting time with Croisier between lead and second, the 14 year old grade 10 student at
Lasalle Secondary suggested there still will be times to throw her favourite shots. “I would probably say the draw, to be honest. If we were coming
through a port or around a guard, I kind of like those shots where you just sneak in.”
Two years younger than her sister at skip, Piper Croisier has already curled for a few years with both Bella and Rajala at her side. In fact, the
Sudbury crew has developed some pre-bonspiel rituals that have certainly helped create some of the success they have enjoyed to date.
“Before every competition, we meet up as a team and we discuss ten goals, things to accomplish over the weekend,” said Piper. “Our goal was to qualify
for the playoff round at the KW Phoenix Slam. We had a bit of a rough Saturday, but we pulled through and made it all the way to the final, and lost to a
really good team.”
The team will now ready itself for a much shorter road trip, just down the street and around the corner, as a matter of fact. The Junior Slam Series
has added a Sudbury stop for 2017-2018, as the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club plays host to the Atlas Slam from September 29th through until
“We have ice right now, but playable ice on Friday (September 22nd),” noted Club curling manager Marc Doyle. “We’re about two weeks earlier than
usual, our regular curling season would start on October 12th. We’ve had only one challenge – our beams run across the ceiling, and with the condensation,
we don’t have a system, a dehumidifier that can remove all of the humidity, so it sweats on the ice.”
With a week to go before a dozen entries (six boys and six girls teams) begin play at the Slam, Doyle is hoping that this stretch of unseasonably warm
weather backs off, just a tad. Either way, he is looking forward to the season ahead, including a new introduction for the benefit of local curlers this
“It’s called “clutch curling”,” he said. “There’s a magnetic strip built into the ice, with sensors in the stones. It measures the pressure of your
hand, the amount of rotation on the rock, the speed of the rock going down the ice. When it comes to competitive curling, you will be able to get feedback
on how you are throwing your stones. We’re really excited about that.”
In Little Current, curling fans are excited about the Travelers Northern Ontario Men’s Curling Championships, to be contested on Manitoulin
Island from February 7th to the 11th (2018). Hosted at the NEMI Recreation Centre, the event will crown a champion that will represent the NOCA
(Northern Ontario Curling Association) at the 2018 Tim Horton’s Brier in Regina.
Tickets for the provincial playdowns in Little Current are subject to preferred early bird pricing until October 15th. For further information, curling
fans should logon to www.littlecurrentcurling.com.