By DALE WOODARD
Scheduling snafus and a few favours from other teams may have aided Renee Sonnenberg’s berth into the 2006 Strauss Canada Cup of Curling.
But, make no mistake, the Grande Prairie skip and her team will be playing for keeps when the event fires up Jan. 31 in Kamloops.
“We’ve played well against a lot of really competitive ladies teams this year,” said Sonnenberg. “So our expectations are to be able to compete with them if we focus on what we need to focus on I suspect we should do all right.”
Still, they received a few favours along the way as well.
“As it turned out, there was an extra spot,” said Sonnenberg. “We finished 13th in qualifying for the Canada Cup, but this year it conflicts with the Saskatchewan and Ontario Ladies provincials. So teams ahead of us opted out of the Canada Cup to (play for the right) to get to the Scott Tournament of Hearts. That’s how we snuck in.”
The top seven in the Canadian team ranking system in points make the cut for the tournament that will also include Canadian champion Jennifer Jones and defending champion and Olympic team trials winner Shannon Kleibrink.
Heading into the event, Sonnenberg is currently ranked eighth out of the 10 teams with 23.5 points following stops in Calgary, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Regina.
“Going into Regina we knew we needed more points, but we didn’t get any, we lost in an extra end. So we consider ourselves very lucky to be playing,” said Sonnenberg.
In addition to a $33,000 payoff for top spot, a Strauss Canada Cup championship title may also land the winner in the Continental Cup should the Canadian champion or the Olympic team not make the podium at their respective events, said Sonnenberg.
“They might choose to take the Canada Cup winner instead of one of those two.”
Though the Strauss Canada Cup is little under a month away, there’s another event in Sonnenberg’s immediate future as the Peace Curling Association district playdowns hit the pebbled ice at the Sexsmith Curling Club Friday and Saturday.
A total of nine teams are competing for two berths to the provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts Jan. 25-29 at the Shamrock Curling Club in Edmonton.
Besides Sonnenberg, there are four other Grande Prairie teams – Colleen Hagel, Kristie Moore, Karen Powell and Carol Sallows. The other teams are skipped by Linda Labbe of Peace River, Fort St. John’s Deanne Busche and Jeanne Yoder of Spirit River.
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