Birt begins quest to repeat today at P.E.I. Scotties in Montague

Jason Malloy
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Suzanne Birt is looking to repeat as P.E.I. Scotties women's curling champion with a new team this year.

The quest begins today at the Montague Curling Rink where the six-team tournament is being hosted.

Birt and teammates Shelley Bradley, Michelle McQuaid and Susan McInnis defeated Kathy O'Rourke's squad 10-4 in last year's final. It was Birt's eighth provincial women's title.

This year, Birt is teaming up with third Robyn Green, second Meaghan Hughes and lead Marie Christianson. Green and Birt won two Canadian and a world championship together as juniors and have played in women's competitions together.

"Robyn and I played together for years, of course, but it's the first time the four of us (have played) together," Birt said Thursday night. "We've played a lot this year. It just feels natural and it's a great group of girls to play with."

Birt and Kim Dolan's rink have byes into today's 3 p.m. draw in the modified triple-knockout championship.

The 10 a.m. draw sees Lisa Jackson playing Sarah Fullerton and Tammy Dewar meeting Bradley. Dewar is from the host club while the other five curl out of the Charlottetown Curling Complex.

"All the teams are strong, so the winner at the end of the weekend is going to have to play well," Birt said.

Her team practised in Montague before Christmas, played four games last weekend there in a tournament and practised there this week. Birt said her team members are looking forward to the competition after lots of work to prepare them for different scenarios they might encounter at the provincial championship.

"We're not scared to play with rocks in play and we can hit and defend a lead," she said.

If a team wins all three sections, the championship round will not be required. The winner advances to the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb. 20-28 in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Five teams will also take part in the P.E.I. Future Scotties event, an under-21 competition, in conjunction with the women's competition. Skips of the Future Scotties teams are Alexis Burris, Emma Coffin, Lauren Ferguson, Rachel MacLean and Katelyn Shaw. Burris, Coffin and MacLean are from the Cornwall Curling Club, Shaw is from the Charlottetown Curling Complex and Ferguson's rink is comprised of athletes from Western, Crapaud and Silver Fox clubs.

Play begins Saturday.

Both competitions are sponsored by Kruger Products.

The field

A look at the teams competing in the P.E.I. Scotties women's curling championship, which starts today in Montague. Players listed skip, third, second, lead with alternate and coach, if applicable.

– Suzanne Birt, Robyn Green, Meaghan Hughes, Marie Christianson and coach Danny Christianson.

– Shelly Bradley, Veronica Smith, Jane DiCarlo, Tricia MacGregor and alternate Susan McInnis.

– Tammy Dewar, Darlene MacLeod London, Robyn MacDonald and Gail Greene.

– Kim Dolan, Rebecca Jean MacDonald, Sinead Dolan, Michala Robison and alternate Jackie Reid.

– Sarah Fullerton, Robyn Wile, Emily Gray, Whitney Young, alternate Megan Wile and coach Angela Hodgson.

– Lisa Jackson, Carolyn Coulson, Melissa Morrow and Jodi Murphy.

Organizations: Cornwall Curling Club, Silver Fox, Kruger Products

Geographic location: Montague, Grande Prairie, Western

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