Sudbury

2, maybe 3 Sudbury curlers compete at the Scotties

Jen Gates and Kendra Lilly of Sudbury both curl on Team Krista McCarville out of Thunder Bay. The McCarville rink is representing northern Ontario at the Canadian women's curling championships in Moose Jaw, Sask., February 15 - 23, 2020.

2 Sudbury curlers might compete against a 3rd, Tracy Fleury

Sudburians Kendra Lilly (left) and Jen Gates are on the team representing northern Ontario in the Canadian women's curling championships February 15-23, 2020. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

At least two curlers from Sudbury, Ont., will be competing at the Scotties tournament this year, maybe three.

Jen Gates and Kendra Lilly of Sudbury both curl on Team Krista McCarville out of Thunder Bay, which won the right to represent northern Ontario at the Canadian women's curling championships in Moose Jaw, Sask., February 15 - 23, 2020.

Lilly has been part of the team for the last five years, commuting on so-called "practice weekends" to join her teammates in Thunder Bay.

"It is a little strange," admitted Lilly, who added most people don't realize the distance between the two cities is 1,000 kilometres.

Gates joined the team last year as a fifth, but found herself playing at the Scotties because one of the team members was pregnant. The team finished fourth.

"I think you just go where the opportunities take you," said Gates, who will be on the ice again this year because another team member, Sarah Potts, is pregnant with twins.

Gates and Lilly may be competing against another Sudburian, Tracy Fleury.

Fleury skips a rink based in East St. Paul, Manitoba, which won the Manitoba provincial championships last year, but failed to make the Scotties playoffs.

"It was a little bit difficult last season being so far away from the team and practising on my own and travelling on my own," said Fleury, who feels the team is more comfortable with the distance challenges now.

And they've had success.

Team Fleury is the number one ranked team in Canada and despite not winning this year's Manitoba provincials has earned a spot in the wildcard game Friday, February 14 against former world champion Jennifer Jones.

"We're definitely excited about it," said Fleury. "It's really nice to have a second chance of getting into the Scotties."

But she realizes it's one shot.

"It's tough for that team that does need to go home the next day.  You'd love to stay for the week and compete."

 

With files from Markus Schwabe

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