Team Crough are able to lift their feet for the holidays, according to lead Julianna MacKenzie from Rocky View County. But not for long.
Starting Jan. 3, 2022, MacKenzie, second Kim Bonneau, third Quinn Prodaniuk and skip Elysa Crough will represent the youngest team competing in the Alberta Scotties in Grande Prairie.
"We're definitely the underdogs," said 19-year-old MacKenzie, who lives north of Cochrane. "But, it's going to be a great experience for us."
Especially, she said, after the team's heartbreaking loss in the gold-medal game at the junior national women's championships in Saskatoon last month.
"Going to nationals is a memory I will be keeping for a long time," she said. "It was our goal to win nationals and represent Canada in Sweden and obviously we're heartbroken, but we're looking ahead to the competition in Grande Prairie.
"This is a big opportunity," she added. "We'll be playing the top teams in Alberta."
MacKenzie said she has been curling since she was eight, thanks to her brother.
She spent numerous hours at the rink in Cochrane watching her brother curl before eventually deciding to try it for herself.
School sports, specifically basketball and soccer, distracted her from curling temporarily, but when her bother's team needed an extra body, MacKenzie rediscovered her love for the sport.
"I realized I really missed it and have been playing it ever since," she said.
Other high-profile events MacKenzie has competed in include the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer and the U18 national women's curling championships the same year. Her rink came fifth in both of those events.
Now competing with Team Crough, MacKenzie said the team eagerly preparing for their first Scottie's.
"We do a lot of training off ice, mostly through the summer, but now, too. This maintains our cardio and strength to outlast the week — playing eight to nine games in week is a lot," she said.
They also prepare mentally.
"We have these training books," she said. "We revisit and re-evaluate our selves and set new goals."
But, in the meantime, MacKenzie is enjoying her down time and celebrating the holidays with her family.