Different team, same result.
Karsten Sturmay and teammate Tristan Steinke are Alberta Junior Curling Champions once again in 2016 after defeating the Jeremy Harty Rink 7-4 in the final at the Wainwright Curling Club on Jan. 6. Their route to victory, however, wasn’t without obstacles this season.
They had to replace their two front-end players that led them to the 2015 Canadian Championships and also got a new coach.
“Last year Karsten and I were the young guys on the team, with two guys in their last year and [had] played front end their entire careers, they brought a lot of experience to the table,” Steinke, the 20-year-old Dawson Creek native said.
“I can’t say enough about how hard Caleb and Chris worked and how much they bought into everything…this year our team was based out of the University of Alberta, we had a different coach and a different style of coaching and it took some adjustment. That put some more onus on the communication that needed to happen amongst the team.”
Along with Sturmay and Steinke, new additions Christopher Kennedy, lead Caleb Boorse and coach Jeff Hoffart will represent Alberta at the 2016 Canadian Junior Curling Championships starting Jan. 23 in Stratford, Ont.
With the new faces, the Alberta defending champions weren’t even the favourite heading into the 2016 junior championships. That honour was left to a rink led by Jeremy Harty, whose team hadn’t lost this season before the championships.
After a 5-2 finish in round robin, Steinke and Team Sturmay recognized that they hadn’t played their best. He said that quickly changed when the bonspiel was on the line.
“We’re happy with the way things ended up. Our team has prided itself this year on trying to just get better as an event wears on and get better as the year went on. Provincials went like that as well,” Steinke said.
“It wasn’t that we started out flat, we [just] weren’t playing to our full potential and we really did just get better and better as it went on. The two playoff games that we played were the best two games we’ve played this year as a team by far and came at a good time.”
It was the Harty rink that handed team Sturmay one of two losses in the round robin and Steinke said it was nice to get some redemption in the final.
“Really the second last game of the round robin where we played team Jeremy Harty and lost to them… are coach talked to us after the game and said ‘we played really well that game, we should be proud of the way we played.’,” he said.
“The semi-final was definitely the best game we’ve played this year. As we started playing better the confidence started going and then in the final we played really well again.”
Steinke added that they can’t focus on results or who they might play in the Canadian championships, instead they need to look at the process it will take to become champions.
“You set goals at the start of the year and in the off-season to motivate yourself and your team to train hard and do all the things you want to do to prepare for the season,” he said.
“We talked before the season and we said that once we get into a competition we try to not think too much about the final results, about what’s going to happen. It’s going to look after itself if we focus on the process. It’s cliché but taking it one shot at a time and trying to play our best.”
As the team Alberta representatives, Steinke and Sturmay finished out of the medals last year after losing in the championship round tie-breaker game against Quebec. Team Alberta will get another shot at Manitoba, who is in their pool this time around and dealt them a crucial blow in the championship round last year.
“Karsten and I, I think we learned a lot last year through our experience, just having been there once through. We know a bit of what to expect, there’s a lot to this event,” Steinke said.
“It’s very highly officiated and there’s lots that goes on in between draws... I think [the experience] keeps the stress level down. You go in, the fear of the unknown isn't as much there. I think that’ll help us and obviously sharing that with our teammates.”