By JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

Kaitlyn Lawes will slide out of junior right into the pursuit of her Olympic dream much earlier than planned.The reigning Canadian junior women’s champion will play third for Alberta’s Cathy King at the Olympic trials qualifying bonspiel in Prince George, B.C., Lawes confirmed yesterday.

“I played with her a couple of times this season because her third (Lori Olson) was pregnant,” said the Winnipegger, who played for King at both the Canada Cup qualifier and the Canada Cup. “(Olson) decided to play with (Alberta’s) Crystal Webster next year so they asked me to play.”

King, a former Canadian women’s champ, played with several different curlers last season but obviously felt most comfortable with Lawes.

“I’m very excited,” said Lawes, who won the silver medal at the junior world championships in Vancouver last winter. “I’m very excited to play in the pre-trials and possibly, the Olympic trials. That would be amazing and definitely something worth working for.”

The opportunity is coming much sooner than if she was just starting out in women’s after finishing her junior career.

“The way Canada has it (qualifying) set up, you’d have to start two or three years in advance,” said Lawes, who also won the 2008 Canadian junior championship.

Lawes plans to move to Edmonton, where she can play and practise with King’s team, this August.

Four of the 12 teams at the pre-trials qualifier will advance to the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton.

By SUN MEDIA

The last piece of their puzzle is now in place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson filled out his team with a second rather than an experienced skip as he prepares to play in the Olympic trials qualifying spiel in Prince George, B.C., this November.

Gunnlaugson has added promising young junior Braden Zawada, who skipped his own squad into the 2009 Safeway Championship after competing in the provincial juniors.

“We definitely wanted somebody around our own age and from our province,” said Gunnlaugson, who parted ways with skip Daley Peters after last season.

So, Gunnlaugson will skip, with Justin Richter at third.

“We talked about the longer ride and we’re looking at this (qualifier) as experience,” said Gunnlaugson, who did not consider any player over 30. “We have a reasonable shot of making it to the second round (Canadian Curling Trials) but making it to the Olympics would be a miracle.”

Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, Kerry Burtnyk and Mike McEwen will also be among the 12 teams competing for the final four spots into the Olympic trials at the qualifier.

Canada captures 2 golds at seniors curling championships

By THE CANADIAN PRESS

DUNEDIN, New Zealand – Canada scored double gold for the second year in a row at the world senior curling championships on Saturday.

Victoria’s Pat Sanders thrashed Switzerland’s Renate Nedkoff 10-1 to win the women’s championship. Sanders scored four in the first end and then added five additional stolen points over the next three ends to overwhelm the Swiss.

In the men’s final, Saskatoon’s Eugene Hritzuk faced a strong challenge from the United States, skipped by Paul Pustovar.

The Americans took one in the first end and then stole the third for a 2-0 lead. The Canadians replied with a single in the fourth end but then wrestled steals in both the fifth and sixth frames for a 3-2 lead.

With the score tied coming home, Hritzuk made an open takeout for one and a narrow 4-3 victory.

“It was quite a ride here this week,” said Hritzuk. “I’d have to say if you were a fan you’d have to enjoy that game. Momentum swings, some steals, a comeback, and then tied up coming home and having to make the last shot to win. It’s great for fans.”

Both Canadian teams went undefeated, with the men finishing 7-0 and the women setting a 9-0 mark.

Sanders, who captured the 1987 world women’s title, was supported by Cheryl Noble, Roselyn Craig and Christine Jurgenson. It was Canada’s second straight senior women’s title after Diane Foster’s win at Vierumaki, Finland in 2008.

Hritzuk, who finished second to 2008 world senior men’s champion Pat Ryan back in the 1988 Canadian men’s championship, was supported by Kevin Kalthoff, Verne Anderson and Dave Folk.

Sanders defeated Sweden’s Ingrid Meldahl, the 2007 world champion, by an 8-4 count in one semifinal while the Swiss upended Scotland’s Marion Craig 7-6 in the other semi. Sweden defeated Scotland by a 6-2 count to win the bronze medal.

Hritzuk scored a narrow 8-7 win over Switzerland’s Andre Pauli in one men’s semifinal, while Pustovar took out 2007 world senior champion Keith Prentice of Scotland 6-5 in the other semi. The Americans took two in the eighth end and then stole the extra end for the victory.

Scotland went on to thump the Swiss 9-3 for the men’s bronze medal.