Fast start for Team Walker!

Team Walker, from left, Laura Walker, Kate Cameron, Taylor McDonald and Heather Rogers had reason to celebrate on Thursday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

Team Walker opens women’s Trials Direct Entry on winning note

A win? Well, that was sweet and enjoyable for Laura Walker.

But the sleep-in? Well, let’s just say the smile got even wider for the Edmonton skip when she described it following a 9-4 win over Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., in the opening game for both teams at the Canadian Curling Trials Direct Entry Event Thursday afternoon at the RA Centre in Ottawa.

“I slept in until 9:30!” marvelled Walker. “This is the first time I’ve thought about it (sleeping in) since Sept. 19, 2020, the day before he was born, and the last day that I had nothing to get up for. I’ve had a few nights without him, but I always had to get up for something.”

The “he” Walker is referring to, of course, is her young son Liam, who along with his mom became one of the main stories of the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary last February. Walker and husband Geoff brought five-month-old Liam with them into the bubble, and his baby face was plastered on TSN images throughout their stay in Calgary.

With Liam turning one on Monday (yes, there was a party back in Edmonton), Walker was able to leave him with Geoff to head to Ottawa with teammates vice-skip Kate Cameron, second Taylor McDonald and lead Heather Rogers (regular lead Nadine Scotland stayed home with her own newborn son, Colby, who was welcomed on Aug. 19) to compete for a berth into the Tim Hortons Curling Trials, presented by AGI, in November in Saskatoon.

“We’re really excited to finally be here,” said Walker. “I think we got a really good feel for the ice conditions early in that game, which gave us a bit of a leg up. And it feels awesome to have such a strong start.”

Tied 2-2 through three ends against its Alberta rival, Team Walker broke the game open with a three in the fourth end and a stolen deuce in the fifth and never looked back.

Winning a bronze medal at the Scotties in Calgary had an understandably positive impact on the Walker team, and the timing couldn’t be any better entering an Olympic season.

Corryn Brown delivers her shot during her team’s win on Thursday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

“I think it gave us a lot of confidence, knowing that we can hang around with anyone, and we can beat anyone when we play like we can,” said Walker. “I think it also helped us figure out what we need to do to play like we can. We had every type of win and every type of loss at that Scotties; we had close heartbreakers, we had games where we just pulled it out. We kind of won from every position. So when you can do that, it gives you that confidence on the ice to know that you’re never out of it, and this is what we need to do.”

They seemed to have that mindset against a Scheidegger team that was playing its first meaningful 10-end game since the 2020 Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“I thought we did a good job of not having back-to-back misses, which is really important in the first game of an event, and the first time you’ve played on that sheet of ice,” said Walker. “We didn’t make everything out there, and this sounds really clichéd, but we truly learned from every single miss, and then someone would go out and make the next one, which kept us from spiralling, which can often happen in a first game.”

In the other women’s Trials Direct Entry game, Team Corryn Brown (Kamloops, B.C.) gave up three in the ninth end but bounced back with a winning four in the 10th for a 9-7 win over Suzanne Birt (Cornwall, P.E.I.).

In the lone women’s Pre-Trials Direct Entry game, Team Lauren Mann (Ottawa) stole a deuce in the ninth end and a single point in the 10th to post a 7-5 win over Ashley Howard (Saskatoon) in B-event play in the triple-knockout format.

Play at the Canadian Trials and Pre-Trials Direct Entry events wraps up on Thursday with a draw at 8 p.m. (all times ET).

Friday, draws are scheduled for 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Live scoring and standings for the events are available here.

Live streaming for all draws is available on Curling Canada’s YouTube page.

This story will be published in French as soon as possible here.

Curling Canada