Tuesday September 16, 2014

Sports in Prime Time

Robertson rink continues historic senior men's curling championship run


The trophies keep piling up, but the victories haven't lost any lustre for Manitoba's 2014 senior men's curling champions.

“It's really good to get another one, for sure,” Neepawa skip Kelly Robertson said. “The first championship may have been the toughest to get, but all the ones since then have been just as sweet to win.”

Robertson's rink - which includes Souris' Doug Armour, Sifton's Peter Prokopowich, and Winnipeg's Bob Scales – claimed the Strathcona Senior Men's Curling Championship last Monday, Feb. 24 by defeating defending champion Bob Sigurdson of West Kildonan 7-3.

It was the rink's third seniors provincial championship in the past four years – they finished as runner-up last year, and won the 2011, 2012 and 2014 events.

It was also a record-breaking win for the rink, as they became the only team in the 50-event history to win three championships with the same foursome.

“It is really phenomenal to be able to win a provincial title three times,” Robertson said. “When we started this team, we really had a team of four skips, but everybody has taken on their positions and we've really learned how to play as a team.

“I think that's the most important thing in any sport.”

As with any sports “dynasty”, building the team wasn't an overnight project.

The veteran of the team, Doug Armour, began skipping in the seniors events around 1999. Kelly Robertson worked his way into a spot on the team along with Peter Prokopowich.

At that point, the team was solid but hadn't found the success it currently enjoys. Some juggling of positions, along with the addition of Bob Scales at lead, proved to be the final piece of the puzzle.

“We were a .500 team before that personnel change,” Robertson pointed out, adding, “We ended up having really good chemistry.”

That chemistry has also led to success on the bigger stages.

The rink won the 2011 Canadian Senior Curling Championships, competed there again in 2012, and finished with the silver at the 2012 World Senior Curling Championships held in Tarnby, Denmark.

Robertson says those experiences will be the team's biggest assets now that they've clinched a berth to the 2014 Canadian Senior Curling Championships being held in Yellowknife March 22-30.

“We're better-prepared heading into these championships,” Robertson said. “We know what to expect, we kind of know what teams will be there and we know at least a little bit about most of them, so I think we'll stand our own against anybody and aim reach the playoffs.

“From there, who knows what will happen.”

The foursome's win last Monday also led to one of its players tying a long-standing record for most provincial senior men's titles won by a single person.

According to CurlManitoba records, Doug Armour has become only the second person to ever win four championships. Valour Road's Lloyd Gunnlaugson, who won four straight titles from 1982-1985, is the only other curler to achieve the feat.

Armour has won three titles with his current team, as well as one in 2003 when he skipped a Souris-based team to the championship.

“If you read Doug's resume, it's like reading a book. He's one of Manitoba's best curlers – he's won provincial titles at the mixed, men's, seniors and masters levels,” Robertson said last Thursday, ironically only hours before Armour was scheduled to throw his first rock of the 2014 provincial masters championships where he was in search of a record third title as a skip there.

“At 69 years old, he's got one of the best minds as far as the game goes; he is really on top of things,” Robertson added.

A send-off event for the Robertson rink has been scheduled for Saturday, March 15 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Neepawa Curling Club, about a week before the team heads out to Yellowknife.


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