Local University of Manitoba curlers are national champs and are heading to Granada, Spain for the 2015 Winter World Universiade games.
On Sun., March 23 the University of Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone rink overtook the University of Alberta’s Team Brendan Bottcher in an extra end, scoring a 7-5 victory at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport/ Canadian Curling Association championships earning them a place at the world Universiade.
U of M skip Matt Dunstone, 18, and second Daniel Grant, 20, are first-year students at the university, and on the team, but this is not the first time they’ve played together. Together they’ve won the 2010 Manitoba Winter Games, the 2013 Manitoba Junior Championships, the 2013 Canadian Junior Championships, and are World Junior bronze medallists.
Dunstone and Grant said at first, the championship just seemed like another trophy for the wall, but it soon turned into something more exciting.
"(Once we realized) the opportunities that are going to come from it, now we get to experience a once in a life time opportunity going to Spain," Dunstone, from Charleswood, said.
"It’s definitely," Grant, from St. Vital, said. "We’ve realized –"
"It’s way bigger than it initially was," finished Dunstone.
Dunstone and Grant have curled together for around seven years, continuously finishing each other’s sentences. The two were asked by their teammates Jim Coleman, 25, third, and Chris Gallant, 18, lead, to join their U of M intramural team.
To get to the CIS/CCA championships the team had to win the U of M championships, then place in the top two at the 2014 Western Canadian University Championships.
Dunstone and Grant said the U of M does not fund the team, so they had to do much of their fundraising to cover hotels and other expenses while competing at away tournaments.
"We are not a university-sanctioned sport, we are part of rec services," Grant said. "(It’s) something we’re feverishly trying to change."
Though the Canadian Curling Association will help Team Dunstone make it over to Spain, Grant and Dunstone hope U of M will support them a little more.
"We hope this will help it a little bit," Dunstone said. "We’re already starting to get a little more recognition from the U of M then I thought we would."
Dunstone and Grant said the sport of curling has changed considerably over the years in regards to physical expectations.
"A lot of leg training to be strong out of the hack. A lot of cardio, to keep up with sweeping," Dunstone said.
"There is more strength training because curlers are beginning to become elite athletes," Grant added. "Before, it was men with beer guts could win, and now it’s proving that people are in shape. It helps to be athletic, fit, and flexible."
Of course, the 2015 Winter World Universiade games are a long way away, so the Dunstone rink has a while to relax.
"It gives us something to work towards," Grant said. "We can take a few weeks off."