An Olympic gold medallist gave a 16-year-old Turner Valley curler some unexpected advice on the weekend in Black Diamond.
That advice -- hey, don’t be afraid to yell at him now and then.
“He told me to be a little louder,” said Sydney Libbus about being third for Marc Kennedy. “He opened me up to strategy, how he thought of the game and how to look at it in a professional way.”
Libbus, along with fellow Oilfields High School Grade 11 classmate Macey Anderson and adult curler Chantal Marleau were on Team Hard Knox, skipped by 2010 Olympic gold medallist Kennedy in the Battle of the Breweries Oct. 18 at the Oilfields Curling Rink. They curled against Team Fahr, skipped by defending Canadian women’s champion Chelsea Carey, third Michael Keenan, Nancy Jackson, second, and Tim Tomayer, lead.
The curlers were selected by making successful bids.
Anderson got to play lead, which is her natural position with her provincially competitive Team Molnar from southern Alberta.
“I have never done anything like that before, it was nice for me to play my regular position,” Anderson said. “I thought it was cool that he (Kennedy) could show me some strategy that I could bring to my team…. The shots that he called, I had never thought as that as an option before.
“It was good to see the different options.”
Those options worked as Kennedy downed Carey in the friendly match.
“This whole thing was about helping out the kids,” Kennedy said. “Any tips I can give them, that’s what I am here for.”
It was just friendly banter with the young curlers.
“It was just curling talk,” Kennedy said. “I’d ask what they think of the game, just telling them how my brain would work with strategy, seeing if they are seeing it differently.”
Kennedy was the second on the Kevin Martin rink for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He was later a third on Kevin Koe’s 2018 Olympic team.
He has since joined Brad Jacobs’ rink as a third.
Libbus, who curls with the Rachel Jacques rink out of Northern Alberta, used traditional curling wisdom to let the curler shoot whatever he is comfortable with when discussing strategy for Kennedy’s shot.
“We would look at all the options and he would say which one he wanted to throw,” she said with a chuckle. “I’d always say: ‘Mark, whatever one you want to throw…”
Keenan was third for Carey.
“It was a great experience to curl with some elite curlers,” the 15-year-old Keenan said. “I was a little nervous, but I just wanted to play like I usually do. It was a fun atmosphere.”
He curled and listened.
“It was good to not only watch but to play with them,” Keenan said. “(Carey) told me some strategy. It was incredible to learn from them… It was good to learn from him (Kennedy) too in what was a game situation.”
As third he admitted it was a bit nerve-wracking holding the broom for Carey’s shots.
“I kind of pointed out the odd shot,” he said with a laugh. “But I just thought I would let her do her own thing and kind of just feed off of her shots.”
Carey said she jumped at the chance to help after receiving a text from Kennedy asking for assistance.
She was impressed with the curling, especially from the high school aged athletes.
“It was very impressive to watch, their mechanics are great – I don’t think I was that good when I was their age,” Carey said.
She was more than happy to give tips or talk strategy.
“When they asked me, I was happy to give that feedback,” she said. “They told me how much they learned and that was awesome.
“It was cool for them, cool for us. A win-win situation.”
Carey won’t be back in the Foothills in January when the Okotoks Curling Club hosts the 2020 Alberta Scotties to determine who will represent the Wild Rose province at the Canadian championships.
As defending Canadian champion, much to her relief, she gets a bye to the finals and won’t have to compete in the tough Alberta Scotties.
“Alberta is a battle,” Carey said. “You can expect a lot of good curlers. There are so many good curlers. It will be a great event and some great shot-making.”
Kennedy, along with 1998 Olympic gold medallist Atina Ford Johnston and Alberta Masters 2018 champion Mickey Pendergast put on a clinic Oct. 19-20.
Proceeds to the Battle of the Breweries went to the Oilfields Curling Club and to junior curling.