Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Team divides, wins start multiplying

Remnants of juggernaut Meakin rink form two potent junior women's squads

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Together, they represent three-quarters of the 2011 Manitoba junior women's curling champions.

But at the 2012 provincial junior women's curling championship going on in Minnedosa this week, the remnants of Breanne Meakin's junior curling juggernaut have divided into two very competitive teams in their own right.

When Meakin -- a four-time Manitoba junior champion -- officially graduated to women's curling this winter, she left behind the junior teammates that had helped her be so successful -- third Briane Meilleur, second Erika Sigurdson and lead Krysten Karwacki.

Meilleur and Karwacki won Manitoba junior titles with Meakin in 2010 and 2011, while Sigurdson was only a member of last year's squad.

Together, they were a very potent combination last winter and just about everyone expected the three remaining members would find another member to replace Meakin and carry forward together into this winter.

And that was the plan initially. But as discussions became more detailed -- and it emerged both Meilleur and Sigurdson wanted to skip -- the decision was made for Meilleur and Karwacki to head in their own direction, while Sigurdson found another team to skip.

"We had a lot of discussions, who would step up to different positions, what the lineup would be," Sigurdson, 20, recalled Friday. "And at the end of day, it just worked out that we wanted different things, different positions, a different chance."

All of which brings us to this year's provincials, where Meilleur's new St. Vital foursome, which includes Karwacki, has been anointed the third seed, with Sigurdson's new Stonewall team not far behind as the fifth seed.

As fate would have it, the two teams were placed in the same eight-team pool in Minnedosa and very little separated them heading into Friday night's late draw, with Sigurdson atop the standings at 3-0, while Meilleur was right behind at 2-1.

And that sets up the prospect of a very interesting showdown this morning, as the two teams of former teammates meet each other in the round-robin in Minnedosa. Sigurdson says it will be the fourth time the teams have played each other this season and Meilleur holds a 2-1 edge.

What still unites all three women, however, is their desire to not only repeat as provincial champions -- it would be a three-peat in the case of Meilleur and Karwacki -- but to also add a national title to their list of accomplishments.

Meakin's foursome came up short in each of their last two trips to the Canadian Juniors, leaving much still to be accomplished for the survivors of that team.

"That's a huge motivator," said Meilleur, 19. "All the girls you talk to who've been there say it was an amazing experience."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2012 C5

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