The last time Red Deer hosted the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, Marie-France Larouche led her Quebec team to within one win of glory.
In 2004, she lost the Scott Tournament of Hearts final to Team Canada’s Colleen Jones by a score of 7-4. She’ll be looking to take the next step to success in a return to Red Deer after capturing the Quebec Scotties championship on Sunday, January 29.
Larouche and her Club de curling Etchemin team of Brenda Nicholls, Amélie Blais and Anne-Marie Filteau downed Glenmore’s Allison Ross 10-3 in the final. Larouche stole a single in the fourth end, 2 in the fifth and then forced Ross to 1 in the sixth. With the hammer in the seventh frame, the thirty-one-year-old Larouche racked up a four-ender and an overwhelming lead on the Ross team of Kristen Richard, Brittany O’Rourke and Sasha Beauchamp.
At this year’s provincial championship, which was held at the Club de Curling Kénogami from January 24-29, only three of eight teams survived a triple-knockout format in advance of Page playoffs. Advancing out of B flight play, Larouche faced A flight qualifier Kim Mastine of Boucherville in the 1 vs. 2 game. Larouche, who has skipped at five previous women’s national shootouts, never trailed en route to a 9-4 victory.
Mastine and her team of Nathalie Audet, Audrée Dufresne and Saskia Hollands then went down to defeat in the semi-final game against C flight qualifier Ross. Tied after six ends, Ross scored 3 in the seventh to take control in a 10-6 victory. With the win, the Ross foursome advanced to Sunday afternoon’s final game showdown with Larouche.
Marie-France is the only remaining member of the Larouche rink that ended last year’s national Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a disappointing 4-7 record. Nicholls, Blais and Filteau will no doubt be looking forward to the Red Deer “mojo” that their skip will bring to the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which will be held at Westerner Park from February 18-26.