J.T. and Hailey Ryan have a ways to go before they equal their dad’s accomplishment more than two decades ago.
But the siblings pulled off a pretty spectacular double Friday afternoon at the St. Vital Curling Club.
Mere minutes after winning the Manitoba junior men’s curling championship, J.T. watched his older sister win the provincial junior women’s title just two sheets over.
Now, the Ryans have a family vacation to the West Coast set for the end of the month.
J.T. guided his Assiniboine Memorial team to a 7-3 victory over championship favourite Braden Calvert of the Granite in the final. Leading 4-3 in the 10th end, the 19-year-old skip used his last rock to slash away a Calvert counter and score three.
His championship team includes third Jacques Gauthier (son of three-time Canadian women’s champion Cathy Gauthier), second Graham McFarlane and lead Brendan Bilawka.
In junior women’s play, Laura Burtynk’s Assiniboine Memorial foursome, with Hailey at third, outlasted previously unbeaten Kristy Watling of East St. Paul 8-7 in a tense, back-and-forth final.
Down by one, Burtnyk used her last rock in the 10th to hit about two-thirds of Watling’s shot stone, stuck around and counted two to secure the title.
The second on the team, Sara Oliver, won her second consecutive provincial title after winning with Abby Ackland of Fort Rouge last year. Ackland knocked off Burtnyk in the 2016 final.
Rebecca Cormier plays lead on the Burtnyk team.
"I was more nervous watching (Burtnyk’s) last one than I was throwing mine," said a smiling J.T., who was participating in his fifth junior championship.
"Unbelievable... I’m really excited. It doesn’t feel real, yet. It’s been a lot of losing just to get to where we can win a couple of games, and now here we are."
The Ryan and Burtnyk teams will represent Manitoba at the national junior curling championships, Jan. 21-29 in Victoria.
The siblings’ dad, Jeff Ryan, won a 1995 world men’s title playing third for Kerry Burtnyk, Laura’s father.
"I’ve never been more nervous in my life, especially the last two minutes when J.T. had to throw first and make the shot and then Laura had to throw and make the shot," said Jeff Ryan.
"It’s a couple of minutes you won’t forget."
J.T.’s squad went the first seven ends without the hammer but led 3-1, picking up steals in the third, fifth and sixth ends before Calvert finally scored. J.T. played a short angle-raise takeout to move just enough of a Calvert stone and score one in the eighth to go up 4-1, but then surrendered a deuce in the ninth to set up the final-end dramatics.
Asked when he felt he had Calvert on the ropes, J.T. said: "When they shook our hands at the end.
"They are such a good team and they can just turn it on in a second. I was never thinking it was over or counted them out of it."
The Ryan quartet beat Hayden Forrester of Fort Rouge 7-6 in the morning semifinal. Burtnyk’s team downed Altona’s Mackenzie Zacharias 9-2 in the junior women’s semifinal.
"I still don’t think it’s hit me yet, it’s pretty surreal, especially since my brother won, so I guess we’re going on a family vacation," said Hailey, just days from turning 21. "I’ve tried to imagine what this would feel like, and it’s not even close to what I thought. It’s amazing."
Hailey admitted she kept a watchful on her brother’s battle.
"I had to. I was so nervous about my game, I had to just keep looking over... ‘He’s doing OK, we’re doing OK, everything’s going OK," she said. "That helped distract me a bit."
It’s the last year of junior eligibility for the four members of the Burtnyk team.
"My team played awesome," said Burtnyk. "We were just calm and collected and relaxed, and every shot we needed to make, we did.
"It feels amazing. It’s my last game of junior, so what better way to cap it off? It’s my last game in provincials and it was a big win and it feels great."
Burtnyk’s dad, Kerry, is a curling legend in these parts, with one Manitoba junior and five provincial men’s titles, two Brier wins and a world crown under his belt.
"Now I’ve tied him for junior titles, so it feels pretty awesome," Burtnyk said. "I’ve got a few things to climb in women’s but I’ve tied him in juniors, so there you go."
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