TRURO – Two Colchester County curlers struggled for words as they talked about competing against some of the best athletes in the world in front of their hometown.
Lindsey and Karlee Burgess took to the ice at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre last month as part of Team Kaitlyn Jones at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters. For 19-year-old Lindsey, it was her first Grand Slam event, but Karlee, 20, competed in two others already in her career.
“Oh man, I don’t even know if I could put into words how excited we were to be able to play in the Masters in front of family and friends,” said Lindsey, lead for the team. “There were talks of us competing before we got the official invite, but when that became official, I was jumping around the kitchen, screaming.”
For Karlee, who plays second for Team Jones, she said her experience at the Masters was completely different than the previous two Grand Slam events – both Champions Cups.
“To be playing in front of our family and friends was amazing. We had such amazing support and the crowd was so loud,” she said. “It’s hard to describe, because we were playing on the best stage of the world. It was such a phenomenal experience.”
Both curlers said their team’s goal was to reach quarter-finals, and both were excited to have reached that goal. They went 3-1 in round robin play, pulling off wins over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni, and Kerri Einarson of Manitoba. Lauren Lenentine rounds out the team as third.
But it might have been their upset over Rachel Homan of Ontario that both curlers will talk about for quite some time.
“It was hard not to be a little star struck,” admitted Lindsey, who grew up in Truro. “Beating Rachel Homan was pretty crazy. It was our last game and we were 2-1 at that point. We were thinking it would be a tie-breaker game. We just knew we wanted to keep it close and tried to stay with them most of the game.”
Karlee, a Hilden native, said she and her teammates were taking it one game at a time, and were pumped to have reached their goal. She said it was Homan she really wanted the opportunity to go up against, as she had played Team Jennifer Jones previously.
“That’s also hard to describe,” she said, of playing Homan. “We wanted to keep it close and when we were, we decided to change up our style a little bit. I was definitely a little bit nervous, especially when we had the last shot.”
Having won the world junior championships earlier in the year, Lindsey said playing at the level of the Masters is where they want to be.
“I’m excited to be slowly getting to that level,” she said. “Our goal was to make it to quarters and we did that. But we were also okay with not reaching that goal, especially because we would be playing against Einarson and Homan.”
She said the team went in wanting to prove they could stick with the senior teams, and stay close to them.
“We tried not to get too caught up in the wins and losses. It was the fact we were playing at home, more specifically in front of friends and family – they were cheering so loud. It was awesome and even better playing at home than I thought.”
This is the second year the cousins have been playing together on the same team. Lindsey said Karlee was more of a guide last year because of her experience.
“But now, we’re really good friends and teammates and it’s gelling really well,” said Lindsey.
Karlee admits the two have grown closer since becoming teammates, which is a good thing
“We have the same goals now, and have been training together lots. Being on the same team – we’re both front end – is really cool,” she said. “It’s definitely hard when you have a close bond with a friend and teammate if they or you move on, but being on the front end and sweeping together, we need to have that close bond. It allows us to communicate well.”
Team Jones competed in the Oak Island Junior Spiel earlier this month, and have a women’s spiel also coming up. They’re preparing for provincials, which will be held at the Lake Shore Curling Club in Halifax.