Two Airdronians played a part in securing Alberta a national curling title last weekend.
After a weekend battle in Oakville, Ontario, the team of five U18 girls, including one from Airdrie, won the U18 women’s national curling championship on May 8.
Out of the 21 competing teams, Team Plett from Alberta placed fourth in their pool after the round robin, which qualified them for the quarterfinals. The team won four of their six draws in the round robin and went on to win their remaining three games in the knockout stages to secure the championship.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty exciting,” said head coach and Airdrie resident Blair Lenton about the final win.
Team Plett, which includes curlers from Sherwood Park, Carstairs, and Airdrie, qualified for nationals by winning the U18 women’s provincial title for Alberta in January.
After facing teams from Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Ontario and other provinces, Team Plett squared off against the tournament’s other Alberta team in the final, which Lenton said made for a tough match.
“We’ve played them all season, so we know their game and we were still confident that we could probably do it,” Lenton said, “and we managed to pull that off.”
The final was a closely fought battle, ending in a 3-1 win for Team Plett, who were led by skip Myla Plett, of Carstairs.
According to Lenton, it takes a “dedicated group, they work really hard [and] you do a lot of training, a lot of practice” to win a national championship.
However, keeping things fun helps with winning too, the coach added.
In addition to Lenton, Airdrie was represented on Team Plett by Lauren Miller, who was the team's alternate. This season was Miller’s last year playing in the U18 division, as she is no longer under 18, according to Lenton. However, the recent Bert Church High School graduate will compete at the U21 level next season, where she hopes to win another national medal.
Miller, who has been curling for six years, believes her strongest attribute in curling is her mental strength.
“It’s really easy to get caught up in a missed shot,” Miller said, “I like to think of myself as the team glue.”
The win was not only an accomplishment but a “privilege,” Miller said, because “so few people in Canada can call themselves Canadian champions in curling.”
In the semifinal, Team Plett shot at 91.4 per cent, meaning that the team made nearly perfect shots, as called out by the skip, Myla Plett. According to Miller, these percentages are typically only seen by the best curlers and female “Olympians from the 2022 Winter Olympics averaged only about 80.3 per cent.”
Although the percentages do not affect the final match outcome, the statistics show the young women’s talents.
Not only did the girls win the national title, but Lenton was also awarded the national tournament’s Fairplay Coaching Award. Lenton won the award out of 21 other potential coaches.
Regarding her coach’s award, Miller said he was “always with us throughout the season and was accommodating to those who lived in Edmonton.”
Having coached Team Plett for the last four seasons, Lenton said it was great to watch the girls achieve so much success this season.
“They’re just a great group of girls and I love coaching them,” he said.