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A Youth Movement in Manitoba Curling

Tuesday Dec 22 2015
by CurlManitoba Release

When the Manitoba 2016 Men’s & Women’s championships take place in Selkirk and Beausejour early in the new year, the competing teams will include 16 or more of the youngest athletes to ever compete in the two events.

Teams skipped by Mackenzie Zacharias-Altona and Hayden Forrester-Fort Rouge, the winners of last spring’s Manitoba U-18 Championships, had already qualified for the 2016 Canola Juniors in Rivers when they qualified respectively into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Monsanto (in Beausejour, January 20-24) and Viterra Championship (in Selkirk, February 10-14).

The Zacharias team includes Emily Zacharias, who was on the U-18 Champion team, as well as Morgan Reimer and Jenessa Rutter.

The Forrester team includes Brett MacDonald and Cole Chandler, who were on the U-18 Champion team, along with Brennan Sampson.

With birthdates in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, the Zacharias foursome has an average age of just over 16 – younger than the most famous of all of Manitoba’s ‘youth teams’ – the Terry Braunstein high-schoolers who won Manitoba and lost the Brier final nearly six decades ago. While complete records are not available for verification, at 15 years of age Emily Zacharias is believed to be the youngest player to ever compete in a Manitoba Men’s or Women’s championship.

Compared with the Zacharias team, the members of the Forrester squad are relative old-timers with an average age of 19 years, younger than the Braden Calvert foursome which made a run to the men’s championship final four a year ago. They are younger, too, than the Kerry Burtnyk 1981 team which is still the youngest team to ever win the Brier.

While the Forrester team was winning a Winnipeg men’s regional berth, Christine MacKay’s Fort Rouge team (Gaetanne Gauthier, Taylor Maida, Katrina Thiessen) was winning a women’s provincial entry. The MacKay team has also previously qualified for a Canola Juniors berth.

In the Central Region, four junior men who will be competing at the provincial juniors in Rivers also qualified, on two different teams, for the Viterra championship. Devon Wiebe and Brett Moxham, with Randy Neufeld-LaSalle, and Jordan Peters and Graeme Bergman, with Lorne Hamblin-Morris, bring to at least 16 the number athletes who have the rare opportunity to compete for the two different Manitoba championships in the same season.

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