Ready the rink: WolfPack curling set to rock

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

Skip Tiffany Krausher delivers a stone at practice Jan. 16 at the Kamloops Curling Club. - Photo by Adam Williams

Skip Tiffany Krausher delivers a stone at practice Jan. 16 at the Kamloops Curling Club. – Photo by Adam Williams

One after another they slide out of the hack, quietly practicing their deliveries over and over. While the sheets around them are filled with rinks playing games, shouting out commands to sweepers mired in a competition that is often described as quintessentially Canadian, the WolfPack women’s curling team practices the fundamentals.

It’s a team that hasn’t garnered much publicity to date. Though they were formed in late August even the most ardent followers of TRU athletics are only just learning of their existence. Some might view that as a slight, others something to complain about, but the women just keep on practising.

The men’s team is in a similar place, their formation has followed an identical trajectory. Both teams were the result of the Kamloops Curling Club’s successful bid for the CIS/CCA Curling Championships in March.

That sort of pressure would weigh heavily on some, but both skips — Darren Nelson of the men’s rink and Tiffany Krausher of the women’s — are taking it in stride.

“You’re on home ice, a lot is expected of you, but I try not to let it get to me,” Krausher said. “That’s just the way I’ve always been, if you let it get to you you’re not going to do as well.”

Krausher’s rink has played at the provincial level but this will be their first opportunity to compete on a national stage. So to compensate they practise three times a week as a team and for countless hours on their own. They have also traveled around the province competing in bonspiels.

Nelson and his rink have previous experience at national curling events, he even played for TRU when they went to nationals in Winnipeg in 2007. He was a third then so this time around it will be different but he’s excited about getting a second crack at playing for his university.

“It’s nice, you’re representing something bigger than yourself, so it’s fun to be a part of that,” Nelson said. “Especially going to TRU and supporting all the other sports teams, it’s fun to be a part of that myself now.”

Nelson’s rink competes in the Sun Life Super League, an elite men’s division at the Kamloops Curling Club, and currently sits in third place. The team had aspirations of competing in men’s playdowns this year but had to abandon that path due to cost.

Both Krausher and Nelson have been heavily involved in the Kamloops curling scene for nearly 20 years. Nelson also coaches at his old high school, South Kamloops Secondary.

“It’s nice to spread the game, as long as there’s people that are excited to learn the game, it’s awesome to help coach them,” Nelson said. “As long as people are showing the enthusiasm and the want to get better it’s really a pleasure to help them learn.”

It’s unclear what the future holds for curling at TRU. Brenda Nordin, the head coach of both the men and the women, is hoping that a solid showing in March could lead to a permanent partnership between the Kamloops Curling Club and TRU Athletics. According to sports information officer Larry Read, the onus will be on the curling club to secure its own funding to support the team — as is done with WolfPack teams for baseball, hockey, golf and cross country. Winning is less of a concern for the athletics department.

For the athletes, the future of the program is secondary. Their focus is on March, when teams from the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada will arrive in Kamloops.

They may not be the most well-known team at TRU, but slide after slide they are working to change that.

Edited Jan. 21 at 2:03 p.m. by copy/web editor.

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