Laura Walker wasn’t going to curl with a team this season.
She was ready to dial back to mixed doubles events while she and husband Geoff Walker — Brad Gushue’s lead — contemplated starting a family.
“I was pretty set on playing just mixed doubles and taking a little bit of time for myself,” Walker said.
“Geoff and I are wanting to start a family. I just wasn’t sure I could give the women’s game 100 per cent any more.”
So, she declined Taylor McDonald’s initial invitation to skip a team that included her, Kate Cameron and Nadine Scotland.
Flipping the switch
McDonald tried a second time with the message the team would accommodate any changes in Walker’s life.
“I think the words that changed it for me was when Taylor said they would support me through anything because they ‘hate that women feel like they have to choose,”‘ Walker said.
“Those were the words that kind of flipped the switch.
“I said ‘you know you’re right. I can do it all. I shouldn’t have to choose. Knowing I have the support of my teammates was the biggest thing for me.”‘
In their first season together, Walker, Cameron, McDonald and Scotland out of Edmonton’s Saville Community Sports Centre went undefeated to win the Alberta women’s championship.
Walker, 29, is making her Scotties Tournament of Hearts debut.
Alberta, Manitoba, Northern Ontario top Pool A
“I said I wasn’t going to join a team unless I felt we could win,” she said. “When I said yes, it was because I felt like we could compete.
“I didn’t know we could do it right away, but I felt in the long run if we were work together we could do that. So far, so good.”
Alberta, Manitoba, and Northern Ontario topped Pool A at 2-0 following Sunday afternoon’s draw in Moose Jaw, Sask.
WATCH | Alberta’s Walker slides past Quebec:
Defending champion Chelsea Carey and host Saskatchewan were 1-1. Nunavut, Quebec and New Brunswick all opened 0-2.
B.C. and Ontario led Pool B at 2-0.
Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Jennifer Jones wild-card team were knotted at 1-1.
Northwest Territories and Yukon were both 0-2.
Round-robin pool play continues through Wednesday evening. Championship pool play begins Thursday.
The Page playoffs are Saturday followed by Sunday’s semifinal and final.
Carey downs Silvernagle
The 4,500-seat Mosaic Place was full for the afternoon draw because Saskatchewan’s Robyn Silvernagle faced defending champion Carey.
Silvernagle attempted a thin double takeout to score two for the win, instead of drawing for one and taking her chances in an extra end.
Saskatchewan gave up two points to Carey in a 9-6 loss. Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville beat New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford 9-3.
WATCH | Chelsea Carey defeats Robyn Silvernagle:
P.E.I.’s Suzanne Birt defeated Nova Scotia’s Mary-Anne Arsenault 7-3.
B.C.’s Corryn Brown was an 8-5 winner over Kerry Galusha of Northwest Territories.
Late curler Aly Jenkins honoured
A pre-draw ceremony honouring the late Aly Jenkins of Warman, Sask., had competitors and spectators wiping their eyes.
WATCH | Saskatoon curler Aly Jenkins honoured at Scotties:
The 30-year-old curler died during childbirth in October.
Jenkins played lead for the Sherry Anderson team that lost the 2019 provincial final to Silvernagle.
Jenkins’ teammates Anderson, Nancy Martin and Meaghan Frerichs presented Jenkins’ husband Scott and their three young children with Saskatchewan jackets.
“It’s Saskatchewan, so it makes it so much more close to home,” Martin said. “She was important to all of us.”
Earlier in the day, Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson escaped with a 6-4 victory over Nunavut’s Lori Eddy at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Sunday in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Eddy gave up a steal of two in the ninth end and Einarson ran her out of rocks in the 10th to avoid a massive upset. Einarson is second in the Canadian rankings while Eddy holds the No. 134 position.
WATCH | Einarson leads Manitoba over Nunavut:
Alberta’s Laura Walker defeated Quebec’s Noemie Verreault 8-3 and Team Wild Card’s Jennifer Jones dumped Yukon’s Hailey Birnie 10-1.
Ontario’s Rachel Homan posted a 10-5 win over Erica Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador.