Alberta's Sturmay proving 'we belong here' with hot start at Calgary Scotties

Success to open national championship historically good omen for squad from Edmonton

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Being fairly fresh to the national final, Selena Sturmay and her Alberta queens had a ton of queries coming into the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Now — after a 5-0 start to curling’s coveted championship — there’s just one that’s on everybody’s mind …

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Can they keep this up?

“I don’t see us as a rookie team,” said a smiling Sturmay, sporting all the confidence in Canada amid the strongest start of the 18-rink field at Calgary’s WinSport, where they are heavily supported by the home crowd.

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“I think I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have any nerves here, and I don’t want to discredit the rookie story and that,” continued the skip from Edmonton. “But I think we are a really good team and we belong here. We’re ranked fifth in Canada (in the Canadian Team Ranking System), and I think we are out here proving that.”

And how.

After Tuesday’s 8-3 matinee win over Québec’s Laurie St-Georges (3-2), nobody’s proved better than Sturmay, third Danielle Schmiemann, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Paige Papley at this year’s Scotties.

The Saville Community Sports Centre crew have opened with five straight wins — matching Ontario’s Rachel Homan and one up on Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones through 12 draws — putting her in well-thought-of championship company in the annals of Alberta curling.

The last time a skip wore Alberta colours for the first time at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and started with five consecutive victories, it turned into a winning week …

As in crowning-glory queens-of-Canada stuff.

That was Chelsea Carey back in 2016. Her rink of third Amy Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Laine Peters — representing The Glencoe Club in Calgary — actually went 6-0 to open that championship in Grande Prairie, Alta., before hoisting the hardware after a final win over Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville.

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Three years later, Carey and Alberta — this time with third Sarah Wilkes, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown repping The Glencoe — won it all again, bolstered by a wowzer 7-0 start to the 2019 Scotties in Sydney, N.S.

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“It feels amazing,” said 25-year-old Sturmay, of this year’s Alberta hot start. “Coming into this, we wanted to grind out as many wins as we possibly could, and I think we’re doing a great job of that.

“I think we’ve been doing a really good job of picking up on ice conditions,” continued Sturmay. “They’re not always the exact same from draw to draw. I think my team and I have done a really good job of picking up on those small things and catching on to it quick and making the adjustments needed.”

Not too shabby for a squad with very little Scotties experience.

Only Hawes has it from her time with B.C.’s Corryn Brown as second at both the 2020 and ’21 national championships.

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“We’ve already asked Dez a million questions,” Sturmay said. “When you come to the Scotties, it’s kind of just a different beast of its own.

“You come into a competition like this and you don’t know exactly what to expect,” continued the skip. “No two Scotties or national competitions are the same. But she was able to shed really great light for us on just what to expect behind the scenes. Everything else that comes with the Scotties — not just the curling — she was able to help us out with.

“So she’s been a great addition to our team.”

Team Alberta skip Selena Sturmay and team
Team Alberta skip Selena Sturmay during the afternoon draw against Team Quebec during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at WinSport in Calgary on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

The 27-year-old native of New Westminster, B.C. — turned Calgarian last summer — has also proved great in the moment, with an 84% shooting accuracy through 11 draws to score high among the tournament’s seconds.

“The biggest advice to give is to just enjoy the moment here,” said Hawes, the only Team Alberta member from Calgary. “You’re never guaranteed of ever coming back to this event. So make the most of it. It goes by super fast and try to have some fun while you’re at it.”


That’s no problem when you’re winning like they are.

“It definitely puts us in a great place just moving forward and looking at playoffs,” added Sturmay. “However, we do just want to take it one game at a time, and we know we’ve got a couple of tough games coming up here. You can’t look too far ahead.”

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Northwest Territories’ Kerry Galusha (1-3) found her first win at these Scotties in historic fashion Tuesday. Her rink from the Yellowknife Curling Club rebounded from a 7-0 hole in the second end to steal a 10-9 decision from Ontario’s Danielle Inglis (2-3). It was the second-largest comeback in Canadian women’s championship history and the first since 1970, when at the Stampede Corral in Calgary, B.C.’s Donna Clark dug her way back from a 10-0 deficit through six ends to top Prince Edward Island’s Marie Toole … Ontario’s Rachel Homan joined Jennifer Jones at 4-0 atop the Pool B standings early Tuesday with an 8-6 win over Kate Cameron’s Manitoba crew (2-2) … The other morning contests saw B.C.’s Clancy Grandy (4-1) top New Brunswick’s Melissa Adams (1-4) 8-3 and Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith (2-3) beat Yukon’s Bayly Scoffin (0-4) 12-5 … Rounding out Tuesday afternoon action was: Canada’s Kerri Einarson (5-1) defeating Saskatchewan’s Skylar Ackerman (3-3) 11-6; Brown (2-3) losing to Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes (2-3) 8-4; and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Stacie Curtis (1-4) dropping Prince Edward Island’s Jane DiCarlo (0-6) 11-6 … The evening draw saw: Homan defeat Jones 7-5 in the day’s feature match; Cameron top Galusha 7-5; Adams edge Inglis 9-8; and Grandy down Scoffin 13-4 … Wednesday’s action at WinSport opens with Draw 13 at 8:30 a.m. MT, followed by Draw 14 at 1:30 p.m. MT and Draw 15 at 6:30 p.m. MT.

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