Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burtnyk: the next generation

World champ's daughters blaze their own curling trail

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The name almost screams off their uniforms -- Burtnyk.

And Rachel and Laura Burtnyk know exactly what it says -- and what others are saying.

"It's a bit different for us. Everywhere we go, there's people saying, 'Oh look, there's Kerry Burtnyk's daughters," says Laura Burtnyk, 15. "You feel like there's a bit more weight on your shoulders.

"I'm kind of used to it. I've grown up with the attention on our family all our lives. But now that it's us getting the attention, it is a bit different."

The Burtnyk daughters had their curling coming-out party this weekend at the Victoria Curling Club, where the two made their provincials debut at the Manitoba junior women's curling championship.

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Burtnyk is, like her father before her, the skip, while Laura serves as the team's third. The team is rounded out by Danielle Lafleur at second and Rebecca Cormier at lead.

And the coach? It is not who you would think it would be. "My dad," says Rachel Burtnyk, "is not considered qualified to coach us."

That's right -- Kerry Burtnyk, the five-time Manitoba men's champion, two-time Brier champion and 1995 world champion, is not considered qualified to coach his own daughters this weekend.

That's because for all Burtnyk's on-ice expertise, Burtnyk does not hold the Level 2 coaching certification necessary to coach teams at the provincial and national level in Canadian curling.

And so Burtnyk's longtime friend, Howard Restall, is coaching the Burtnyk daughters this weekend while the father gnashes his teeth behind the glass. "It is terribly hard to watch," he said at the Victoria last week while watching his girls lose a 9-8 last-rock heartbreaker to Kate Cameron.

It might be just as well and for the best, says Patti Burtnyk, wife to Kerry, mother to Rachel and Laura and a fine curler in her own right.

"It's hard enough as a parent to watch. But to then coach on top of it, that would be tough for Kerry, especially because his expectations are so high," said Patti Burtnyk.

"The girls would have no problem with him being their coach," she laughs. "The problem, I think, would be the other way around."

The Burtnyk girls limped out to an 0-4 record to open their first provincials, but found the win column twice Saturday to improve to 2-4. They have one more game remaining today and will not be in the playoffs when the round-robin draws to a close at Victoria this afternoon.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2011 A35

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