Provincial champs ready for national challenge
Curling: Team Libbus competing for U18 Canadian title in Moncton
Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 06:00 am
Getting used to the unusual is the task at hand at the first event of its kind.
The Alberta champion Team Libbus out of the Oilfields Curling Club takes on a challenge of national proportions for the first time this week at the inaugural U18 Curling Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick.
“We’ve been keeping a constant state of mind, not varying from what we did to earn our success at provincials,” said Team Libbus third Riley Helston. “To keep the same sort of mental state the whole way through and never getting ahead of ourselves, taking it one rock at a time.”
The national format offers up a new wrinkle than its provincial counterpart.
Team Libbus – with skip Jacob Libbus, third Helston, second Pacen Anderson and lead Tyler McWillie - went undefeated in Leduc in a three-day format to take provincials. In New Brunswick the competition runs five days and is much more of a marathon like test.
“There is so much down time that it’s easy to let your thoughts run than to keep your thoughts focused for 2 and hours,” Helston said. “This is stretched out into a week instead of a two, three-day bonspiel so I feel like it’s really a matter of staying together as a team and never letting anything take us off track from that mental state.
“Not being used to having to stay focused for that long will be a real mental grind.”
Since booking its ticket to the Maritimes the squad has centralized for two to three trainings per week.
“We’ve been doing some team talks and getting a lot of time on the ice,” said Libbus. “We’ve been practicing the little things and making sure we get that right so we can be very fine about shot making.”
Before the competition officially starts all 12 teams get the chance to practice on the unfamiliar ice surface as well as take a glimpse at the kind of talent going for national bragging rights.
“Doing what we can do, controlling what we can control. It’s a big stage, but we just need to stick to how we’ve gotten here,” Libbus said. “Remember what we did to get here and play that kind of game we play.
“We’re going to do a lot of watching during practices. We know a few people from different events, some we’ve seen or heard of.”
Picking up on ice conditions and doing so early could go a long way in the championships.
“We’ve been practicing on different sheets of ice or different clubs making sure we’re not getting too familiar with a certain place,” Helston said. “I think we should be able to adapt pretty easily to the new circumstances.
“Getting past that first end out on that arena, once we’re into that groove we will be able to carry on with what we know. Getting through that initial honeymoon stage, that will be the biggest challenge.”
The Alberta foursome opened its competition with day one games versus Ontario and the Northwest Territories on Tuesday. The medal games go Saturday evening.
For full schedule information go to curling.ca/2017under18