In Soviet Russia, curling reports you!

Late last year, just after the birth of this blog, I had written a post on curling journalism. I talked about my experiences covering some local Manitoba junior curling as part of my IPP.

That was my first step into the curling journalism world. While I know it’s quite a niche market, I’ve always had this crazy passion for the sport and a crazy passion for writing and reporting. It only made sense that I try and combine the two.

I just never thought, not even in my wildest dreams, that it would take me to where I am today.

I had gained some good experience writing news articles in the junior curling scene. I enjoyed hanging out at the curling clubs, updating scores, hanging out with players and parents. And now those experiences have truly paid off.

It was late December and I stumbled across the World Curling Federation’s Trainee Journalist program. The winner would be flown out to Sochi, Russia to join the World Curling Federation’s media team and help cover the World Junior Curling Championships.

Seemed like a great opportunity, but I came across this application a mere week before the deadline. I had a lot to do. The application involved sending in questions we would ask the winning and losing skips based on their line scores as well as a short essay on a moment in curling that we’ll always remember.

I wanted my essay to stand out. I had just interviewed Jennifer Jones’ third, Kaitlyn Lawes, a few weeks before. I gave her another call and interviewed her about a curling moment years ago, and how it impacted her as a junior curler.

Here’s the piece that I had written:

The impact of one hit

One of the most special moments in curling was a story six years in the making. It started in 2005 with a shot and still excites Canadians and other curling fans today.
Never in her wildest dreams did Kaitlyn Lawes believe she’d be holding the broom for the woman who made “The Shot” in 2005. 
It was February 27, 2005 and my team and I were eliminated from a junior bonspiel. We, along with the entire curling club, watched as Jennifer Jones prepared to throw her final rock in the Scott Tournament of Hearts final, Canada’s women’s curling championship.
Jones was down 6-4 and faced a difficult in-off shot for four points.
Not only the curling club, but also the nation was silent as Jones delivered what is arguably one of the best rocks ever thrown in the history of curling. When she made it, I learned that curling was more than a sport – it was a passion that we as a nation shared.
Kaitlyn Lawes, 16 at the time, was at the Pembina Curling Club in Winnipeg during Jones’ shot. Lawes believed Jones would make it. She bet a dollar on it with some friends.
“It was such an emotional ride, you felt like you were part of it as you were watching that moment,” Lawes said during an interview with me in December 2012, almost eight years after the shot.
As a junior curler in Winnipeg, Lawes was familiar with Jones and would see her practise often.
“You see her at the curling club every day throwing rocks, so to see her at that level you know hard work pays off,” she said. “It made me really want to strive to be a lot better.”
And she did. Lawes made such an impression during her junior curling career that one year after it, Jones asked Lawes to play third for her team.
Back in 2005, Lawes didn’t have the slightest idea she’d ever curl competitively with Jones.
“You grow up watching these icons in curling – and I can say that because she is an icon in curling – you dream of it, but you never actually think it’s going to happen to you,” Lawes said.
Lawes was patient and continued to develop her curling skills. Lawes made the provincial finals a couple of times before winning two provincial junior women championships, and two national titles.
“I learned so much from those losses. I don’t think if we would have won the provincial final the first year, we would have went on to win at nationals,” she said. “You learn so much more from a loss than you do from a win.”

Many young athletes dream of playing with the athletes they grew up watching on TV. Lawes made that a reality. She reminds me, and many young athletes, that patience, hard work and resilience pay off. It’s moments like these that I use for inspiration when I want to succeed on and off the ice.

There’s something in Lawes’ story for everyone. It’s not about curling. It’s about having a drive and a passion, and some times just being in the right place at the right time.

I can relate. Back in September, I never would have guessed I’d be heading to Russia this year. But with some hard work and catching a couple of lucky breaks, we can amount to anything.

I learned last week my application had been shortlisted for the journalist position. Last night, I knew I would be receiving an email with either very good or very bad news. Because of time zones I knew it was going to come in the early morning.

So I set my alarm for four a.m. No e-mail.

Five a.m. No e-mail.

Six-third a.m: I had an email.

I was still half asleep, my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the glare of my computer screen and I ended up reading random sentences in the email. I couldn’t make out whether I had gotten it or not. I was reading about how they’d like to put my name on their website, but I didn’t recall reading “Congratulations!” or anything like that.

Finally, after another read through I realized I was the lucky recipient.

I have never been more honoured, shocked, surprised, thankful, anxious or thrilled in my life. I have a feeling the next month and a half is going to fly by and before I know it I’ll be flying over the Ocean and making the trip to Russia.

Coincidentally, I somehow JUST learned that our family’s heritage is from Russia (I assumed it was German, my whole life), so I suppose you can say I’m going to the homeland?

Anyway, I have some Russian visa forms to fill out.


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