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Junior curlers hit the Scotties ice

Okotoks' Kesler Bachek competes in Hit-Draw-Tap competition

Getting to throw rocks on arena ice was a real hit for a young Okotoks curler.

“It just felt awesome  — I really wanted to play on arena ice,” said 10-year-old Kesler Bachek. “It curled a ton. Not too fast, it was super fun.”

Bachek competed in the Provincial Hit-Draw-Tap finals in the 9 to 10 year-olds division at the 2020 Sentinel Storage Alberta Scotties on Jan. 26 a the Murray Arena in Okotoks.

Bachek earned his way to the provincial finals through a qualifier at the Okotoks Curling Club in December.

His score among his 15 rocks at the qualifier was submitted to Curling Alberta and the top four curlers across Alberta were invited to compete in the provincials Sunday prior to the Alberta Scotties final.

“It was super fun — I loved being out there in front of everybody and curling on the different ice,” Bachek said. “I was a little nervous.”

He scored points in the tap competition.

Bachek is a member of the Okotoks Junior Curling Academy and his dad, Don, coaches his team.

“I started curling when Kesler started curling,” Don said. “So it’s been about seven years.”

That’s right, Kesler has been pushing a rock in some form since he was about three.

And he’s already one up on dad.

“I have not curled on arena ice yet,” Don said with a chuckle.

Members of the Academy got a chance to show their stuff at the Scotties. They curled in exhibition matches alongside the hit-draw-and-tap final. The young curlers were sandwiched between the Alberta Scotties semifinal and final.

Okotoks area curler Ben Kiist, a junior high school student, got to skip his team in a mini-exhibition match.

“It was different, you get a lot more curl on the rocks — you have to be a lot more precise on how you throw them,” he said. “It takes a few shots to realize how much it curls.. You learn you have to throw your rocks a lot cleaner.”

He said it gave him much greater appreciation for the skills of the women competing in the Alberta Scotties.

“I have really enjoyed this weekend,” Kiist said. “I love curling and this is where I want to be… I led Team Scheidegger out onto the ice and she (Casey Scheidegger) told me best of luck on the ice.”

Kiist’s lead Logan Thomas echoed his skipper.

“It was awesome — different than normal ice,” Thomas said. “I got the experience of playing on quicker and swingier ice.”

It was the second time that Sydney Libbus, a Grade 11 student at Oilfields High School has curled on arena ice. She got to throw some rocks in 2016 at the Pinty’s Grand Slam at the Pason Centennial Arena.

She said curling at the Murray on Jan. 26 was a good experience.

“It had lots of curl,” Libbus said. “My guess would be about six-foot of curl. This just furthers our experience — more things to add.”

The 2020 Alberta Scotties ends tonight when undefeated Laura Walker takes on Kelsey Rocque at 5 p.m. at the Murray Arena in the final.

For the latest on the Alberta Scotties stay tuned to

Following are the results to the Provincial Hit-Draw-Tap finals on Jan. 26 in Okotoks

Ages 11-13
1. Allie Iskiw (Ellerslie Curling Club)
2. Dax Hrycun ( Sherwood Park Curling Club)
3. Sarah Yarmuch ( Ellerslie Curling Club)
Ages 9-10
1. Jaxon Embree (Dawson Creek Curling Club)
2. Carter Scott (Dawson Creek Curling Club)
3. Kesler Bachek ( Okotoks Curling Club)
Ages 6-8
1. Jordan Orzech ( Calgary Winter Club)
2. Madison Steinke ( Huntington Hills Curling Club)
3. Lyndon Sherwick (Medicine Hat Curling Club)