Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Team Canada deaf curlers looking for sweep of titles

Women aim for a second gold right here in Winnipeg

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SHERRY Clark and her teammates are going for a Canadian sweep of major international titles in women's deaf curling.

Clark, a Winnipeg native, won gold with Team Canada at the 2007 Deaflympics in Salt Lake City when curling made its debut. Now the team is going for gold at the first World Deaf Ice Hockey and Curling Championships in Clark's hometown.

The curling event, which features men's teams from six countries and women's teams from five countries, opened Sunday at the Heather Curling Club, where Canada's men defeated Finland 11-3 in their opening game and Canada's women's team met Croatia in the late draw.

"We won gold by teamwork (at the Deaflympics). I feel so excited to have won gold in my first Olympic experience and now it's my first time at the worlds," Clark, 27, said in an email on Sunday as the event opened. She is the fifth player for Team Canada, along with skip Judy Robertson, third Sally Korol second Lynda Taylor and lead Nyla Kurylowich.

"We could win gold as if we play with good strategy and teamwork. We all have a good attitude and spirit, which is important for the team to play well. It (winning gold at the worlds) would make my dream come true."

The curling event, along with the hockey tournament that is being held simultaneously at the St. James Civic Centre, has attracted 250 athletes from nine countries.

"To be able to represent my country and meet people from all over the world is quite an honour, but I am doubly proud given Winnipeg is my hometown and this is the hosting city," said Clark, through American Sign Language interpreter Mandy MacSki. "Curling was a demonstration sport at the 2007 (Deaf) Olympics and so after this event in Winnipeg, it will be considered an event in 2011 in Slovakia."

Clark, who lost her hearing at age one as a result of meningitis, was a member of Manitoba's provincial women's deaf curling team that was brought together to compete at the nationals. She was selected by the national champion Alberta team as the fifth for both the 2007 Deaflympics and the 2009 World Championship.

At the Deaflympics, Clark played ends five through 10 in each game, sharing the lead position with Korol, who was seven months pregnant at the time.

Locally, Clark curls with a mixed team of hearing players out of Fort Rouge Curling Club.

She said sport bridges the gap between hearing and deaf athletes because they all share a love of the game.

"In a sport like curling, gesturing is used quite a bit anyway so it's a good fit," said Clark, who curled as Sherry Dunkley at the Deaflympics before marrying husband Carl Clark on July 7, 2007, the famous 07/07/07 wedding date. "Our sport can have very little exposure sometimes so we've worked really hard to show that we are a true world competition. This is a big step in that direction."

After two days of hockey action, Canada, Russia and Finland sit tied atop the standings at with one win each. Canada defeated the USA 8-2 on Saturday in its opening game.

Canada's goals were scored by Brad Gurr (2), Steve Devine, Jon Lododzinski, Chris Garbacz, Mike Merriman, Scott Savard and Devin Bell.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2009 C5

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