With the Tim Hortons Curling Trials quickly approaching, TSN.ca will profile one men’s team and one women’s team each day before the first rocks fly on Nov. 20 at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Team Laura Walker
Skip: Laura Walker (Age 30)
Third: Kate Cameron (30)
Second: Taylor McDonald (28)
Lead: Nadine Scotland (31)
Alternate: Erin Pincott (26)
Coach: Shannon Pynn
Curling Club: Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton
CTRS Ranking: 4
Highlights: Team Walker has reached the playoffs in four events this season, making it to the final of the Saville Shoot-Out in Edmonton where they lost to 2018 Olympic silver medalist EunJung Kim of South Korea. They went 3-3 at the Trials Direct Entry event, beating Corryn Brown to qualify for Saskatoon. Most recently Walker's rink advanced to the quarter-final round at the Masters on the Grand Slam circuit earlier this month, losing to the red-hot Tracy Fleury.
How They Got Here
Qualified for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials via Curling Canada’s Trials Direct Entry event in September in Ottawa.
Nov. 20 – Casey Scheidegger
Nov. 21 – Kelsey Rocque, Jennifer Jones
Nov. 22 – Kerri Einarson
Nov. 23 – Off Day
Nov. 24 – Rachel Homan
Nov. 25 – Tracy Fleury, Krista McCarville
Nov. 26 – Jacqueline Harrison
Expert Analysis from TSN's Cheryl Bernard
Team Walker will win the Trials if…
"This team showed a lot of grit, going 4-0 in the championship pool at the 2021 Scotties and defeating Jennifer Jones in a tiebreaker before losing the semi-final. This team’s best chance of winning the Trials is for Kate Cameron to be dominant at third, not only with shot making, but line calling. The other key is that the team needs to be consistent. No back-to-back misses to avoid multiple game losing streaks at the Trials which has been a problem at both the 2020 and 2021 Scotties."
The only member of Team Walker that has any experience at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials is third Kate Cameron. Four year ago, Cameron played vice for Manitoba's Michelle Englot, the 2017 Scotties finalist, at the Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials in the national's capital. Team Englot posted a 2-6 record, tied for second last.
Last Four Years
In the first season of the quadrennial, Laura Walker spent a year skipping a veteran-laden team featuring Cathy-Overton Clapham, Lori Olson-Johns and Laine Peters.
After the 2018-19 campaign, Walker debated stepping away from the game to focus on starting a family with husband Geoff Walker. It wasn’t until friend and colleague Taylor McDonald reached out to offer a different perspective.
“I was thinking about maybe just playing some mixed doubles and taking a little bit of a break and my former teammate and friend Taylor McDonald was starting a team with Kate Cameron,” Walker said.
“Taylor had said to me that she hates that women feel like they have to choose. Those words were kind of what changed it for me.”
McDonald was thrilled with Walker’s decision as a new foursome was formed in Alberta.
“I convinced her that she was in her prime right now and she’s too good to step back,” said McDonald. “Thankfully, she was up for the challenge and wanted to stay on board with us.
“She’s definitely a very dedicated person so she wanted to be all-in if she was going to do it.”
Walker’s new team played a ton on Tour to start 2019-20 and went a perfect 10-0 at the Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts to qualify for her first Canadian championship. Team Walker got off to a great 3-0 start at those Moose Jaw Scotties but lost their next four to miss the championship pool.
It was redemption of sorts inside the bubble at last year’s Scotties as Walker and company put together a great week, beating Jennifer Jones in a tiebreaker to reach the playoffs.
Team Walker had a slightly altered lineup as Rachel Brown filled in for regular lead Nadine Scotland, who stayed home with her newborn.
Walker had recently given birth as well to her son Liam and received an exemption from Curling Canada to have her newborn and husband stay with her inside the bubble.
"There's never a dull moment. If he [Liam] wasn't here, I'd probably be just lounging around watching Free Britney documentaries," joked Walker. "He at least keeps me on my toes and busy. It helps to have Geoff here. But, keeping a baby alive every day is pretty much what I'm here doing and curling in between."
They lost to Kerri Einarson, 9-3, in the semi-final, but their skip was proud with how they performed.
"I think what we learned this year is some grit and how to win games when we're not playing that well and that's maybe what we were missing last year," Walker told the media after the game.
Walker shot 78 per cent which ranked fourth among skips.
Walker also won gold at the 2018 Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship with partner Kirk Muyres.