SURROUNDED by family, flowers and the lilting of bagpipes, University of Manitoba Bisons skip Breanne Meakin and her team came home on Monday as the new Canadian university curling champions.
The foursome stepped off their Air Canada flight from Vancouver with their gold medals around their necks, mementos of their first-place finish at the 2013 CIS-CCA Canadian University Curling Championships, which wrapped up on Sunday.
Meakin and her team, including third Ashley Howard, second Selena Kaatz and lead Krysten Karwacki, went undefeated in the five-day Kamloops, B.C. tournament.
"We had a good start," Meakin said, after being greeted home by representatives from Curling Manitoba. "We had a very very good start with solid games. That kind of eased the nerves and from that point on we had a few close battles and ended up going undefeated, which was awesome."
Despite the strong start, to get to gold the team had to hold off a tough challenge from University of Alberta Pandas' Team Kelsey Rocque.
While the Bisons opened with a 3-0 lead after two ends, Rocque scored four in the third to take the lead. After Meakin and her team tied it up in the ninth, they picked up two more points in the 10th end after a miss by Alberta. The final tally stood at 9-7.
Among the team's well-wishers at the airport was Meakin's father, former world champion and Team Stoughton coach Rob Meakin. "I'm proud of the whole team," Meakin said. "They obviously were very consistent, which I think is something you need to be in a round robin. They played well, and put themselves in a position to win every game they were in, and you can't ask for more than that."
Breanne Meakin said the win was a welcome chance to end her season on a high note, after a disappointing finish with Team Cathy Overton-Clapham, for which she threw lead. That team struggled at the provincial women's championship earlier this year, which triggered skip Overton-Clapham's announcement that she was taking a break from the sport.