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Canada’s Universiade curling teams unveiled

(Canadian Interuniversity Sport)

OTTAWA — Canadian Interuniversity Sport announced Thursday the student-athletes and coaches who will represent Canada in curling at the 2013 Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy.

The 26th winter world university games are set for December 10 to 21, with the curling tournament running from Dec. 12 to 20.

Canada will be looking for a rebound performance next month following disappointing results – by Canadian curling standards – two years ago in Erzurum, Turkey, where the men finished fifth and women sixth.

Canada's women's team, from left, Laura Crocker, Sarah Wilkes, Jen Gates, Cheryl Kreviazuk. (not pictured, alternate Breanne Meakin, coach Garry Coderre)

Canada’s women’s team, from left, Laura Crocker, Sarah Wilkes, Jen Gates, Cheryl Kreviazuk. (not pictured, alternate Breanne Meakin, coach Garry Coderre)

Canada's men's team, from left, Brendan Botcher, Mick Lizmore, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin (not pictured, alternate Parker Konschuh, coach Rob Krepps).

Canada’s men’s team, from left, Brendan Botcher, Mick Lizmore, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin (not pictured, alternate Parker Konschuh, coach Rob Krepps).

The Canadian women had previously reached the podium at each of the first three Universiade tournaments, including a silver-medal finish in 2003 (Tarvisio, Italy), gold in 2007 (Turin, Italy) and silver in 2009 (Harbin, China). Curling was not part of the program in 2005 but returned two years later.

For their part, the Canuck men captured the inaugural FISU title in 2003 but haven’t been able to make it back to the podium since, finishing sixth in both 2007 and 2009 before improving by one position in Turkey.

One thing is for sure, on paper, Canada has the talent to return to the winners circle in Trentino.

Representing the red and white in men’s competition will be skip Brendan Bottcher and teammates Michael Lizmore (third), Brad Thiessen (second), Karrick Martin (lead) and Parker Konschuh (alternate), who booked their ticket to Italy by winning the 2012 CIS/CCA championship under the University of Alberta Golden Bears colours.

The women’s squad of skip Laura Crocker, third Sarah Wilkes, second Jennifer Gates and lead Cheryl Kreviazuk claimed their second straight CIS/CCA gold for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in 2012. The foursome will be accompanied in Trentino by alternate Breanne Meakin, who herself skipped the Manitoba Bisons to the CIS/CCA title last winter.

Bottcher, a 21-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., won the junior world championships in 2012 in Ostersund, Sweden. He also led the Golden Bears to a return trip to the CIS-CCA final last march, this time settling for silver.

Crocker, 22, captured silver at the 2010 Junior Worlds in Flims, Switzerland. The native of Scarborough, Ont., moved to Edmonton to resume her career following the 2011-12 season, along with Wilkes and Gates.

Garry Coderre and Rob Krepps, both from the UofA, will coach the women’s and men’s teams, respectively, in Trentino.

The Canadian women are set to open the 10-team FISU tournament on Dec. 12 with matchups against Italy and Sweden, while the men play a single match on opening day, versus Great Britain.

Great Britain (women) and South Korea (men) are defending Universiade champions.

“Our Canadian curlers did not reach the podium in 2011, and that’s something we hope and expect to change this time,” said Krepps, who will double as team leader in Italy. “In fact, based on their past results both nationally and internationally, I am convinced that both our men’s and women’s teams have gold medal potential. It won’t be easy by any means, but as long as they play up to their capabilities, it’s not an unrealistic goal.

“Our men’s team has played together regularly for past three seasons, and has posted some excellent results over that time. For example, the guys qualified for the Alberta Men’s Provincials last season, and they play in their first-ever Grand Slam of Curling event this week in Medicine Hat. I believe that these high-level competitive experiences will prove to be extremely helpful when we hit the ice in Italy.”

Coderre is equally confident in his women’s squad.

“I firmly believe that our women’s team has an excellent chance at the Universiade. In addition to winning two consecutive CIS/CCA Nationals, the core of the team has had some terrific performances in women’s play as well. More specifically, Laura, Sarah and Jen made the playoffs in four Grand Slam of Curling events last season, and did the same at the Alberta Women’s Provincials.”

Her first CIS/CCA title in 2011 earned Crocker an invitation to represent Canada at the 2012 Karuizawa International tournament in Japan and she made the most of the opportunity, returning home with another gold medal.

“It’s an honour to represent my country at such a big event. We’re really looking forward to showing the rest of the world the strength of university curling in Canada. It’s going to be a really valuable experience for my future in curling to play at an event like this, and I can’t thank CIS and the CCA enough for the opportunities university curling has given me.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be playing at the Winter Universiade,” added Bottcher. “Having the chance to win a second major international championship while at the University of Alberta is a testament to the high level of training we have received. It’s something that I’ve been striving for since entering the Golden Bears program, and I think we’re positioning ourselves nicely to have a good shot in Italy.”

Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2013/index

Trentino 2013 website: http://www.universiadetrentino.org/

TEAM CANADA ROSTER: WOMEN

Position          Name                          University      Hometown
Skip                 Laura Crocker              Laurier             Scarborough, Ont.
Third               Sarah Wilkes                Laurier             Scarborough, Ont.
Second             Jennifer Gates              Laurier             Sudbury, Ont.
Lead                 Cheryl Kreviazuk         Laurier             Ottawa, Ont.
Alternate         Breanne Meakin           Manitoba         Winnipeg, Man.

 

TEAM CANADA ROSTER: MEN

Position          Name                          University      Hometown
Skip                 Brendan Bottcher         Alberta             Sherwood Park, Alta.
Third               Michael Lizmore          Alberta             Edmonton, Alta.
Second             Brad Thiessen              Alberta                         Edmonton, Alta.
Lead                 Karrick Martin             Alberta             Edmonton, Alta.
Alternate         Parker Konschuh         Alberta             Sundre, Alta.

STAFF

Coach (women): Garry Coderre (St. Albert, Alta. / University of Alberta)
Coach (men): Rob Krepps (Edmonton, Alta. / University of Alberta)

TEAM CANADA SCHEDULE (all times local / 6 hours ahead of EST)

 Women
Dec. 12 (9:00): Canada vs. Italy
Dec. 12 (19:00): Canada vs. Sweden
Dec. 13 (14:00): Canada vs. Switzerland
Dec. 14 (9:00): Canada vs. Great Britain
Dec. 14 (19:00): Canada vs. Russia
Dec. 15 (14:00): Canada vs. China
Dec. 16 (9:00): Canada vs. USA
Dec. 16 (19:00): Canada vs. Japan
Dec. 17 (14:00): Canada vs. South Korea
Dec. 18: Tie-breaking games (if required)
Dec. 19 (9:00): Semi-finals
Dec. 19 (15:00): Bronze
Dec. 20 (9:00): Final

Men
Dec. 12 (14:00): Canada vs. Great Britain
Dec. 13 (9:00): Canada vs. China
Dec. 13 (19:00): Canada vs. Norway
Dec. 14 (14:00): Canada vs. South Korea
Dec. 15 (9:00): Canada vs. Italy
Dec. 15 (19:00): Canada vs. Czech Republic
Dec. 16 (14:00): Canada vs. USA
Dec. 17 (9:00): Canada vs. Switzerland
Dec. 17 (19:00): Canada vs. Sweden
Dec. 18: Tie-breaking games (if required)
Dec. 19 (9:00): Semi-finals
Dec. 19 (15:00): Bronze
Dec. 20 (14:00): Final