Nova Scotia skip Kaitlyn Jones might be one of the most well travelled competitors at this year’s New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert.
Born in Thompson, Man., Jones moved to British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan, where she skipped for the green and white at the 2017 nationals.
Last year, she began her studies at Dalhousie University and would go on to win a national title and a world championship for Nova Scotia.
“Coming back to Saskatchewan, I’m sure it will feel a little bit like it was at the start of last year when it was a little nerve wracking to be going up against a province that I had played for and lived in,” Jones said.
“However, I think with the fact that I’ve moved around quite a bit, it really starts to feel like just another game out there.”
Jones proved to be a great fit to a rink that had previously won a national and world title in 2016 with Mary Fay at skip.
The squad, which included Kristin Clark at third, Karlee Burgess at second and Lindsey Burgess at lead, defeated Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges at the Canadian Juniors in Shawinigan, Que. and would then go on to defeat Sweden’s Isabella Wranå at the World Championships in Scotland.
“It was a special year for us and this season has felt pretty similar as we’ve picked up a couple of wins at bonspiels and we really stepped up our game at the provincials,” Jones said.
“The field here is really strong and we know we have to play well to have a shot at hopefully winning again, but we feel just as prepared as we were a year ago…maybe even more so.”
This year could also be a special one for Karlee Burgess, who curls alongside her cousin Lindsey, as she has a chance to be the first female to win three national titles.
“I saw the article that Curling Canada put out this week saying that (British Columbia teammates) Tyler (Tardi), Sterling (Middleton) and I all have a chance to be the first to accomplish that,” Burgess said.
“That would be pretty awesome, but there’s a lot to do out on the ice before we can even start to think about that.”
The Burgess family has had success on the national stage in Prince Albert before, as Karlee’s dad Craig was the second on Jim Sullivan’s New Brunswick rink that won the gold medal the last time the event was held here in 1987.
“Obviously a lot has changed since then, but to have my dad here with me at a place where he has some history is really awesome,” Burgess said. “He’s always been there for me with tips since I started curling at the age of six.
“It’s also great to be playing with my cousin Lindsey. We’ve formed a great bond together on the front end and the strong communication that we have each other is something that I think is a huge asset for our rink.”
With Clarke aging out of the junior ranks and becoming the lead for 2018 Scotties semifinalist Mary-Anne Arsenault, two-time Prince Edward Island provincial champion skip Lauren Lenetine has joined the Jones rink at third for this year.
Nova Scotia will begin their title defence at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, as they’ll take on Moose Jaw’s Skylar Ackerman at the Prince Albert Golf & Curling Club.
Ackerman, who finished second in the provincial playdowns, will be the skip for the ‘Host Team’ at the event as the Yukon was unable to field a rink this year.
The other teams in Pool A are Alberta’s Selena Sturmay, Ontario’s Thea Coburn, Northern Ontario’s Kira Brunton, British Columbia’s Sarah Daniels and Nunavut’s Sadie Pinksen.
Pool B consists of St-Georges, New Brunswick’s Justine Comeau, Newfoundland & Labrador’s Mackenzie Glynn, Prince Edward Island’s Lauren Ferguson, Manitoba’s Mackenzie Zacharias, Saskatchewan’s Sara England and Tyanna Bain of the Northwest Territories.
Round-robin play concludes Friday, with the semifinal taking place next Saturday and the final being held a day later at the Art Hauser Centre.