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Thurston the curling champ in Manitoba, heading to Scotties

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KILLARNEY — Manitoba has a new women’s curling champion. And though she’s making her third visit to the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Jill Thurston will take her new team to the championship for the first time as a skip.

Thurston and her Deer Lodge foursome of Kristen Phillips, Leslie Wilson and Raunora Westcott edged Janet Harvey of Assiniboine Memorial 7-6 in an extra end in the final of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Shamrock Centre. They now head to Sault Ste. Marie for the nationals, which run Jan. 30-Feb. 7.

"It feels amazing, and you know what? It feels even more amazing to win with those three, because they lost in the final a bunch of times and it’s so gratifying for them to win it and to win with them," an emotional Thurston said afterward.

"(The nationals) is going to be a different thing. I haven’t skipped, actually, in a long time. I haven’t skipped since ’96 and I haven’t curled for two years after taking two years off. This is going to be an amazing feeling. I’m really looking forward to it.

"(The time off) probably made me a better curler. I got to watch a lot of curling. I got to learn a lot. I got to relax and have a vacation and it really did me a lot of good. I got my passion for the game back.

Thurston trailed 4-2 at the fifth-end break before rallying for the victory after a steal of two in the sixth and a single in the seventh. Harvey’s last rock against a Thurston counter was heavy in the extra end for the decisive point.

"You want to finish it off, but we played hard and they played fantastic. Jill and Kristen were unbelievable today. We were about a foot or six inches heavy on a couple of shots and that was the difference in the game."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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