High school curling team falters at provincials

After an undefeated season and dominating at zone games, the Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) curling team

After an undefeated season and dominating at zone games, the Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) curling team did not come out on top at their recent provincial tournament

The team had breezed through the zone play downs and zone qualifying matches but was foiled at the Alberta School Athletic Association provincial championships, held in Lloydminster this month.

“Zones went very well for us. We knew it would go well, because in the play downs to get to zones, we were the team to beat. We won every game there and when we showed up at zones, we saw a lot of the same teams and we knew that we were the team to beat. In the gold medal game, we played what I thought was a very good team. It came down to last rocks, but we got rid of them,” said Coach Rainer Huebl.

“I told our team that that was the kind of competition we could expect at provincials. When we got to provincials, the first team we played was the home team. They had home ice advantage and their ice was very, very fast and we were not used to ice with that speed at all. The home team had a distinct advantage and we lost the game for the first time this season.”

The LCHS curling team came in third in their pool of curlers. Skip Kendahl Rietze, 17, said although she is proud of her team, she wishes they had gone further.

“We didn’t do as good as we wanted to. The competition at provincials was a lot harder than we expected, I think. We kind of expected it to go like it did at play downs and zones, but it was a lot more challenging than we thought,” Rietze said.

She said playing on an unfamiliar ice surface caused some difficulty for her.

“The ice was just so fast. I had to judge the ice, how much weight to throw and how much ice to give the other players so that everyone made their shots right. It was a lot different than being on our home ice, too. It was much different than even Red Deer’s ice,” she said.

They may not have won a provincial title, but Huebl was still very impressed with his team. He said he has noticed a lot of growth in players, but in one young curler in particular. “Over the season we developed six very strong players – three boys and three girls. However, I have to say that Dawson Park really gained the most confidence as the season went on. He struggled a little bit to tart, but with Kendahl’s leadership he has really come into his own. I’ve been really pleased with the development of all of our players, but especially the confidence that Dawson has shown as the year has gone by,” said Huebl.

Rietze said her experience over the last year has taught her some new skills, as she changed positions from a third to a skip. She said the leadership of this role had affected her on and off the ice.

“It’s a lot different being a skip than a third. There is a lot more pressure on me, and I think I make some tougher shots now. When I was third, if I missed my shots, it wasn’t the end of the end, there was still a chance to score and win. There is a lot more pressure being a skip. I think that’s helped me a lot, actually. I think I’m handling pressure of other situations better now, too, not just in curling,” she said.

Next year the team hopes to redeem their title at provincials.