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Pregnant and hacking it

Blixhavn tearing up Scotties with added weight on throws

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KILLARNEY -- Another victory posted, another opponent vanquished, Lisa Blixhavn exits the ice at the Shamrock Centre and immediately finds a piece of cement wall to lean against for support.

"I'm just going to prop myself up right here and if anybody wants to talk to me, they can come this way," Blixhavn said Thursday.

Fair enough. After all, not only are Blixhavn and her Brandon Curling Club foursome absolutely shooting the lights out through the first couple of days of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Provincial Women's Curling Championship with a 4-0 start, she is 51/2 months pregnant.

Who's going to argue with a lady carrying a baby AND wielding a curling broom?

"Looking good, feeling good... can't beat it," said a grinning Blixhavn when she was asked, undoubtedly for the trillionth time since her pregnancy became official, how she was feeling.

"The girls do all the little extra things for me. I don't have to do the dishes and I don't carry my bag very much."

Originally from Thompson but now living on a farm here, Blixhavn is both the hometown favourite and also the poster girl for perseverance. Not only is she still a dominant curler along with teammates Lana Hunter, Rhonda Ritchie and Tanya Enns, she continues to deal with some of the side-effects of a horrible car accident she was involved in back in the summer of 2005. Blixhavn (née Roy) was returning home from a training session with a coach when somebody threw a pop bottle through the windshield of her car, leaving her with a torn tear duct and an eyelid cut in half. She now has glaucoma in that eye and, because she is pregnant, has had to stop taking the medication that helps her deal with the side-effects.

But let's by no means paint the picture that Blixhavn is complaining about any of this. In fact, she's been a real pro about everything and spent a good chunk of her media session Thursday cracking wise with reporters.

Some examples:

"ö On the potential health risk of curling while pregnant: "My doctor didn't want me to curl... the nurse and I convinced him. We said, 'I'm a skip. I don't do anything anyway.' "

"ö On whether having a baby will cut into her curling next season: "That's yet to be determined. The baby's due in May. Curling starts in September. So it just depends on if I can find a babysitter or if my husband will mind if I'm gone at a time like that."

"ö On how the pregnancy affects her when she gets into the hack to throw: "I've always considered myself a bit of an artist in the hack and I can't do that any more. I have to be more technical and just slow down and make sure I'm lined up properly, because there's not a lot of room to do one of these (leans from side to side), because if I do one of those, I'm going ass over tea kettle."

Finally, Blixhavn was asked if she's thought about what might happen if she wins here -- she'd then be 26 weeks pregnant when the national Scotties opens in Sault Ste. Marie next month.

"Of course I've thought about 'What if we win this thing?' " she exclaims. "If we win this thing, we're going to nationals!"

Worth noting here is that Blixhavn has recruited her former skip, Kristy Jenion, as her fifth. Jenion would be more than capable of throwing the final rocks if Blixhavn has to step aside.

But don't go there with the feisty 32-year-old...

"Shannon Kleibrink played in the nationals in 1993 and she was seven months pregnant," Blixhavn said. "Ally Bell lost the Canadian final in '93 (as part of the Maureen Bonar squad that fell to Sandra Schmirler) and she was the same (pregnant) as me. I know what I'm doing. Besides, having a little extra momentum (the baby) on your side never hurts.

"I know what I have to do to take care of myself. I've got great friends here with me, I've got the support of the whole town and my whole family. And if I need to walk off the ice at any time, I have what I feel is the best skip in Manitoba... That's probably the biggest relief: knowing I'm not going to leave the girls in a lurch if I have to walk."

One other bonus that comes with curling and the wonder of childbirth: maternity leave.

"And I'm only working for another nine-and-a half-weeks, so that's great," added Blixhavn, a teacher, with another grin. "It's like the best of everything."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 8, 2010 C3

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