Altona curler hopes to skip Manitoba team to national championship

A Manitoba team led by two sisters from Altona is headed to Langley, B.C., next weekend to represent the province at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships.

Skip Mackenzie Zacharias told 680 CJOB’s Sports Show that the team, which finished fifth overall last year — one game out of the playoffs — is back and looking to capture gold.

“We’re going to take everything we learned last year and go into every game with the same mindset that we had last year,” said Zacharias.

“(We’ll) try to do our best and take it one rock at a time, one game at a time… and we’re going to see what happens.”

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Zacharias and her team — which includes sister Emily as well as Karlee Burgess and Lauren Lenentine — are coming off a dominant performance in Dauphin at last week’s Manitoba Junior Curling Championships.

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It was their second consecutive tournament win at the provincial level, something Zacharias said was a long time coming.

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“There was a lot of pressure last year,” she said. “Me and my sister had lost the semifinal three years in a row prior to that.

“This year, there was a lot of pressure on us. We were going in as the No. 1 seed, and we were all really nervous going into provincials… (but) everything just came together in the end.”

Zacharias is in her last year of junior eligibility, but at only 20 years of age, she’s already a veteran curler with almost a decade of experience on the rink.

“We started when I was 11 and (Emily) would have been nine or 10,” she said. “We started curling together, so it’s been a long time.

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“We’ve curled together for so long that we know how to separate being sisters and being teammates.”

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The kinesiology student at the University of Manitoba said she plans to continue in the sport after she ages out of the junior ranks. Zacharias has her sights set on making it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as an adult curler, despite the admittedly tough competition.

“It’s a great time to curl and a great time to be a curler, and I hope I can stick around in the sport for a while,” she said. “I’m definitely hopeful that one day I’ll be able to stick with this team and get there one day.”

Team Zacharias kicks off the national championships on Jan. 18 when they take on the team from Prince Edward Island, skipped by Lauren Ferguson.

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Team Manitoba heading to the National Wheelchair Curling Championship
Team Manitoba heading to the National Wheelchair Curling Championship

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