Thunder Bay's Team Larocque crowned as national club curling champs
Foursome from Fort William Curling Club wins national championship
Another Canadian championship can add to Thunder Bay, Ont.'s claim that it is the 'Centre of Curling Canada.'
Those words, written on exterior of the Fort William Gardens, ring even more true after the Tracey Larocque rink, from the Fort William Curling Club, won gold at the women's Canadian Curling Club Championships.
The event took place last week in Ottawa, with Larocque holding a 9-2 record during the event.
"I feel pretty overwhelmed," said Larocque on Monday morning, "exhausted."
The team played 11 games over the span of a week, which creates some sore knees, she joked.
The national victory came as the team had really only played a handful of games throughout the 2021 curling season. Curling clubs were closed earlier in the year because of the pandemic, and Larocque said the team had very little time to gel together, considering it has a new player.
"We really had maybe two games together prior to that bonspiel [in October] and then we had a week or two before our provincial championships in Sault Ste. Marie and then two and a half weeks later to nationals," she said, "so not a whole lot of prep time."
The team did meet off the ice, trying to develop a strategy on how to play their best together: keep games as close as possible, be patient, and capitalize on their opponents missed shots.
"I think we figured out our strengths more so through this competition than we actually ever knew beforehand."
Larocque said while the event is only for amateur teams, it has a professional feeling.
"It feels like a national event that doesn't feel like rec curling at all. They make it so wonderful and make you feel special and feel like you're an elite athlete at this event," she said, noting the team had drivers, athlete attendants, and "the atmosphere of an elite curling event."
"We had everything that I'm thinking that some of the other players would have gotten. That's pretty awesome."
Larocque said she hoped her team's performance will show other local curlers the level they can play at, even if they continue to be amateurs.
While the victory is encouraging for Larocque and her team, she said there is no desire to further her curling career.
"I don't know how they do that," she said, referring to Krista McCarville's rink, which competes at a professional level.
"[Curling like that] every couple of weeks, I could barely even do it for one week!"