Featured Curling Athlete: Beth Iskiw

Beth Iskiw’s collection of provincial championship jackets is already an impressive one, with four provincial junior titles to her credit as well as two provincial Scotties women’s championships. Trouble is, they’re all from Nova Scotia, where she grew up. Now that she’s living in Edmonton, Iskiw wants to add a few Alberta blue-and-yellow outfits to those navy blue Nova Scotia jackets.

Beth Iskiw (r) and teammate Laine Peters (l) survey the action at the 2010 Canada Cup of Curling (Photo Michael Burns)

And based on the performance of Iskiw and her team — rounded out by skip Heather Nedohin, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters — there’s a solid chance she could do just that this season as the Nedohin squad is making a spirited run at ending the recent dominance of Calgary teams in Alberta. That team came close last season, losing the provincial final to Shannon Kleibrink, but the squad’s 2010-11 performance was good enough to qualify for the 2011 Capital One Canada Cup of Curling in Cranbrook, B.C. Iskiw (then Roach) played vice-skip for four straight Nova Scotia junior women’s championship teams skipped by Meredith Doyle, from 1996 through 1999. The Bluenosers lost the 1996 semifinal in Edmonton to Saskatchewan’s Cindy Street, who went on to lose to none other than Nedohin (then Godberson) in the Canadian final. A year later in Selkirk, Man., Iskiw was able to celebrate a Canadian championship, beating Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche in the gold-medal game, then went on to win the bronze medal at the world junior championships in Karuizawa, Japan — the test event for the 1998 Winter Olympics. In 1998 at Calgary, Nova Scotia missed the playoffs despite a solid 8-4 round-robin record, and in her final crack at the juniors before aging out, in 1999 at Kelowna, B.C., Iskiw helped Nova Scotia finish first in the round-robin, but the team went on to fall to Larouche in the final. Since then, Iskiw teamed with Doyle to win the Nova Scotia women’s title in 2002 (finishing with a 5-6 record at Brandon, Man.) and 2004 (6-5 at Red Deer, Alta.) before she moved to Edmonton and, eventually, hooked up with Nedohin. She’s attended two Scotties with Team Alberta as an alternate, but now her heart is set on winning the provincial title as a player. Birthplace: Truro, N.S. Hometown: Edmonton Curling Club: Saville Sports Centre Current Team: Team Heather Nedohin Position: Third Delivery: Right Nickname: Bethy Quick Hits with Beth Iskiw Do you have any superstitions? “I have quite a few superstitions as the season goes along. We all have to sit in the same seat in the car or van after a win until we lose a game. If we’re on a streak, I may not change a particular item of clothing.” Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party. “Sarah McLachlan, Julia Roberts and Barack Obama.” If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why? “Definitely golf — beautiful weather, amazing courses and you’re not cooped up in a dingy rink.” If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why? “I would love to see thinking time (the system that was used at the Capital One Canada Cup, in which the clocks only run when the rocks aren’t in motion) implemented.” What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game? “I like to listen to Top 40. I don’t like to listen with headphones just before a game; I prefer to chat with anyone around.” Favourite:Website? “tsn.ca, facebook.com.” — Order from Tim Hortons? “Medium, single milk with two sugars, bagel toasted with butter and jam on the side and a fruit-and-yogurt parfait.” — Vacation destination? “Anywhere in Nova Scotia with my two kids and my husband, Blayne. My favourite place is Grand Lake, N.S.” — Junk food? “Pretzels and ripple chips with dill pickle dip.” Do you have any pet peeves? “I can’t stand impatient drivers in snowstorms. It also drives me crazy when people cut in line at the grocery store when a new till opens and you are clearly the next one in line but they rush to the new one.” Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why? “Jim Burgess had the biggest influence on me. He was my coach for several years in Truro, N.S., from when I was about 12 until after I started university. He taught me the fundamentals and just about everything else. I think he was, and is, much more knowledgeable about the mental, physical, and team dynamic side of the game then he would ever admit and to this day I still think back to the things he taught me. He made my skip Meredith and me write lines once to drill a strategy point in my head and to this day I still think about that.” First thing on your Bucket List? “I would love to go to Italy.” Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels? “Our team plays quite a bit of Monopoly Deal or Pigs. If we’re not doing that, I like to nap or catch up on missed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.” Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why? “Why not? It would provide additional exposure to curling and another medal chance as well. It’s an interesting and fun concept.” One thing most people don’t know about you? “I love the smell of skunks.” Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal: “An open hit to run the other team out of rocks so my skip doesn’t even have to throw.”