42nd annual Autumn Gold Classic underway at Calgary Curling Club
CALGARY -- 18-year-old Ryleigh Bakker and her curling team aren’t expecting to win it all at this year's Autumn Gold Classic at the Calgary Curling club. After all, they’re young (ranging in age from 17 to 20) and still learning, in a sport where experience counts for a lot.
What they will get out of this week is an incredible experience. They not only get to watch some of the top women’s curling rinks in the world, who have travelled to Calgary for the tournament, but they also get to curl against them.
Bakker says she is grateful her junior rink received an invite to play in the Autumn Classic, even if they're in a little over their heads in a tournament that features 9 of the top 13 teams in the world rankings, representing 8 different countries.
“It shows us where the bar is but it’s also just really exciting to play great curlers," she said, in an interview with CTV News. "And also just to feel the atmosphere out here."
"I love pressure," she added. "I love playing in big games because I love playing great competition. Curling really forces us to be better and play our best game.”
Team Bakker had to be on the top of their game right off the bat as they took on 2019 Canadian and Alberta women's champ Chelsea Carey and her rink.
Carey said playing against top rinks can only help and it’d be a great learning experience for Bakker and her team.
“It can be frustrating because those games can be hard to win, unfortunately," Carey said, "but I mean all of us were them at some point, having to play against the Jennifer Jones or something."
“You have to play against the best teams to learn what you need to do to get there,” she added.
Team Carey ended up winning the game 5-2, a respectable showing for the young Bakker foursome.
Bakker said she didn’t feel intimidated out there.
“I felt really locked in and ready to go and obviously I wanted to show my best game."
Carey was impressed with the young team.
“They played very well," Carey said.
"It was a close game. I mean we controlled it, but it was close and a couple of more shots in six and it might have been tied, you know. It was a battle,” she added.
The championship final will be played at 3:30 pm on Monday at the Calgary Curling Club.42nd ann