If Marie-France Larouche is skipping at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, it’s a safe bet she’ll be playing after the round-robin is done.
The six-time Quebec women’s champion has made the final four at the Scotties in every trip to the Canadian women’s curling championship except one, and has charmed thousands of fans across the country along the way with her unceasing smile and good nature.
Larouche started building her collection of Quebec jackets as a teen, winning five provincial junior titles, and capturing a bronze medal in her first visit to the nationals as a 14-year-old in 1995 in Regina; she would also claim a gold medal that same year at the Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie
Larouche went on to capture the next four Quebec junior championships, finishing second at the 1997 national championship in Selkirk, Man., losing to Nova Scotia’s Meredith Doyle in the final, before winning the Canadian title two years later in Kelowna, B.C., getting some revenge with a victory over Doyle.
Larouche would go on to capture the bronze medal at the 1999 world juniors in Sweden.
Since then, she’s been a regular at the Scotties; her first appearance was in 2000 as the fifth player for Janique Berthelot’s Quebec team, and a year later, she would skip her own team in Sudbury, Ont., and also make her first playoff appearance, finishing fourth, and also qualifying for the Canadian Curling Trials in Regina.
Larouche’s breakthrough, though, would take place in 2004 at Red Deer, where she skipped Quebec into the Scotties final before losing to Colleen Jones.
Larouche captured a bronze medal at the 2009 Scotties in Victoria, and in her most recent appearance, earlier this year in Red Deer, she lost the bronze-medal game to Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones.
Larouche has helped Quebec’s young athletes over the years; in 2003, she was the Team Leader for the Quebec squad at the Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick, and three years later, she coached a junior men’s team at the provincial championship.
Birthplace: Lévis, Que.
Hometown: Lévis, Qué.
Curling Club: Etchemin Curling Club, St-Romuald
Current Team: Marie-France Larouche
Quick Hits with Marie-France Larouche
Do you have any superstitions?
“When I lose with a shirt, I don’t really feel like wearing it again.”
Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Michael Jordan, Russ Howard and Céline Dion.”
If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“Beach volleyball because it’s played in the sand, it’s warm outside and the athletes are tanned.”
If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“I would like the thinking time to be adopted instead of the current system. Our team has an aggressive style of play and thinking time would give us a chance to play more draws as it takes more time compared to takeouts and a defensive game.”
What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game?
“Pop and rock music.”
— Website? “teamlarouche.com”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Café mocha.”
— Vacation destination? “Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.”
— Junk food? “Poutine, for sure!!!”
Do you have any pet peeves?
“When somebody plays with loose change in their pocket.”
Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why?
“Camil Larouche, my father. He has been coaching me for 20 years. And if I can, I would like to add another influence, I would also say André Ferland because he brought new ideas to the sport and he helped me believe that I could compete with all the teams in Canada.”
First thing on your Bucket List?
“Have a great dinner with good wine and good friends and family.”
Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels?
“Napping, watching TV and watching the other games.”
Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why?
“Thumbs up; it’s another opportunity to send more athletes of our sport and it brings the possibility to win more medals.”
One thing most people don’t know about you?
“I studied in filmmaking.”
Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Draw the button, if there was no doubt that I would make it! But honestly, I would like the shot to be the easiest as possible and hearing the simple word ‘clean.’ ”