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Carey sends Thurston home from Scotties

Last year's champ takes it in stride

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ALTONA -- It ended badly for Jill Thurston.

The 2010 Manitoba women's champion was formally eliminated from playoff contention Friday afternoon at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts with an 8-3 loss to Chelsea Carey.

The loss to Carey dropped Thurston to 2-4 heading into her final round-robin game today and left her wondering a bit about what went wrong.

"We felt good coming in. I don't think it was a lack of preparation," Thurston said. "We were just kind of on the wrong side of the inch a few games. That's curling."

Thurston won the Manitoba women's championship in Killarney last year and put together a decent national run, making a playoff tiebreaker game at the Canadian women's championship in Sault Ste. Marie.

That performance was a lot better than Manitoba teams other than Jennifer Jones tend to do at the national Scotties lately and it would normally have seen her team anointed the favourite to repeat as provincial champion this year.

But disagreements between Thurston and former coach Ron Westcott ultimately led to the departure last spring of Westcott, daughter Raunora Westcott (the team's lead) and Leslie Wilson, the team's second.

Everyone agrees Thurston asked the Westcotts to leave the team, but there is some ambiguity about whether Wilson resigned or was fired.

Whatever the case, Westcott and Wilson head into this morning in first place as the front end for undefeated Cathy Overton-Clapham, while Thurston has a decidedly different fate awaiting her.

"I don't think you can look back and say you had any regrets," Thurston said. "Obviously the team parted for a reason and you have to move forward and do your best with what you got. So I don't think we regret anything we did. We played well all season and just didn't have a good weekend."

Indeed, it bears noting the revamped Thurston squad, with Kristen Phillips returning at third and Jenna Loder and Kendra Georges joining as the new lead and second, had a very solid cashspiel season, qualifying in a remarkable seven of eight events and making two finals and a semifinal.

As for Wilson and Westcott, Thurston pointed out their departure from her team set off a chain of events that looks like it was good for Manitoba women's curling generally.

"They made lemonade out of the lemons. Good for them," Thurston said.

"There's lots of great players and I think we've been lacking a great (women's) team for a long time. Other than Jennifer (Jones), of course. So I think what ended up happening was several great teams were made because of what happened.

"Good on everybody. I think that's what this province needs -- a few more horses in the show and a little more chance to win something."

LOOSE HAIRS: Curl Manitoba is expected to announce soon that the 2012 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be in Portage la Prairie and Dauphin will host the 2012 Safeway Championship.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2011 D2

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