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Larouche ‘parfait’ at Canada Cup

Marie-France Larouche of St-Romuald, P.Q., remained the lone unbeaten team in Canada Cup women’s championship play on Thursday at the Gallagher Centre.

Larouche, in her only outing of the day, knocked off Edmonton veteran Cathy King 8-6 and heads into the final round-robin schedule with games against winless defending champion Stefanie Lawton and fellow Saskatchewan smoothie Amber Holland (2-2).

“We are just making good shots,” said the tertiary finisher at last month’s Scotties Tournament Of Hearts in Victoria. “We pay no attention to perceived pressure.”

Larouche broke into a smile.

“We have won three games ($800 per) so now we can eat,” she chirped. “And now we can fly home.”

And the rest is gravy, right?

“No, no,” she cautioned. “Not gravy yet because we have hotel bills. We have to win some more.”

Regina’s surprising Michelle Englot also boasted three wins to go with one loss. Englot trounced winless Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., 9-3 on the late shift after earlier handing Mary-Anne Arsenault of Halifax her first loss, 7-5 in the afternoon.

Arsenault shared a 2-1 mark with Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary and Kelly Scott of Kelowna. At 2-2 were Holland and King.
Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard won her first outing of the piece, 8-5 over Lawton of Saskatoon.

“We’ve been struggling with the rocks but a win’s a win,” said Bernard. “All we want is a W. Anything for a W. We’re usually pretty good with our backs to the wall and we have to win our last two. We seem to be able to dig out. I think we will get on a roll.”

Bernard tackles Arsenault and King today.

King stole a 7-4 verdict from Holland on Thursday night. It was Holland’s second loss of the day after going 2-and-0 on Day One.

Kleibrink needed an extra end to subdue Holland 9-8 in the afternoon.

“We’re on the upswing now,” assessed Kleibrink, who has qualified for the Canadian Olympic trials at Edmonton next December along with absent Canadian champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

“We had a little dip in the middle of the season where we didn’t play that well.”

Kleibrink, a native of nearby Norquay, winds it up against Scott and Middaugh today.

Scott hit for a whopping six-ender during her lone Thursday assignment against Middaugh.  Tied 4-4 playing the seventh, third Jeanna Schraeder and skip Scott executed double takeouts — Scott with the hammer — which led to the big six.

“We had a few kickers there,” said two-time Canadian champion Scott. “We haven’t won like that in a while. I’d like to take a picture of that scoreboard.

“Every game we’re getting a bit tighter with our margin of error and our draw weight and comfort with the ice.”

Said Middaugh, “We’re too rusty. We can’t seem to get untracked. This isn’t going to be our week.”

King, 49, is directing a team that has been in upheaval all season.

“I said at the last Olympic trials that was going to be it,” said the 1998 Scotties champion of a planned retirement at the time. “Then we won the Canada Cup so then we started to play and now here we are again.

“We’ve lost two close games but we’re playing pretty well. There were a couple of shots here and there that we could have made a little better.”

It has been a topsy-turvy season for King.

“My third, Lori Olson, showed up three months pregnant in August,” said King. “We knew we were going to have to make a change somewhere during the season. You know how pregnancies go, they can be really iffy. Lori had to leave early because of some pregnancy issues and we’ve had to grab a few spares so that made it a little tough on us but our spares have been fine.”

Currently, Canadian junior champion skip Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg is filling in at vice-skip and “she’s playing great”.

Olson, meanwhile, has given birth and will return to the King lineup next fall.

“We think there’s a good chance we’ll be in the trials,” said King, “but we’ll have to wait until next month to find out for certain.”