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The Scotties and the continuing curling development of Kira Brunton
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Technically speaking, the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary was not the first time that Kira Brunton attended the event as a competitor.

The long-time Sudbury native and current resident of Ottawa is not about to split hairs over technicalities, however.

Make no mistake – the event was a really, really big deal to the 24 year vice-skip with the Danielle Inglis Ontario entry.

True, Brunton had been to the Scotties twice as an alternate (2021 with Team Burns; 2023 with Team Homan) – but it’s a whole lot different when you are right in the middle of the mix, an integral part of the roller coaster that is a week long bonspiel on a national level.

“It’s the Scotties - everybody dreams of going there since they were little,” said Brunton in early February, her team (which also includes second Calissa Daly and lead Cassandra de Groot) having earned the berth in a Southern Ontario hotbed of curling thanks to an 8-7 win over Carly Howard in the provincial final.

“The Scotties is just different,” she continued. “The exposure through TSN and that sort of thing makes it a higher caliber event.”

This from a young woman who does not lack in experience at high caliber events, having claimed gold at the Canada Winter Games (2015), the Canadian U18 Curling Championships (2017) and the U Sports Curling Championships (2019).

The disruptive stretch that covers 2020 to 2022, however, might have been even more critical in helping the masters student in counselling psychology reach one of her ultimate goals. “Over the course of the past few years, I’ve progressed the most on the technical side,” said Brunton.

“During Covid, there wasn’t as much time to compete so a lot of times we were just practice, practice, practice. We spent a lot of time breaking things down and then maybe trying to correct problems that were there.”

“It’s things like finding a comfortable position for your body but also fine-tuning small details like rock placement in the hack for in-turn versus out-turn, what feels more comfortable for your eye dominancy and that sort of thing,” Brunton added. “There are some very niche technical things that you can dive into if you have the time and if you want to.”

For the soft-spoken affable curler who springboarded from her undergraduate degree to on-going studies in the world of academia, it comes as little surprise that she would take every possible opportunity to continue learning, continually seeking to better her skills.

“I think you’re always pulling from every aspect of your curling career; none of the experiences are ever going to hurt you,” said Brunton. “I pulled a lot from my experiences, especially with Tracy’s team (Tracy Fleury – vice for Team Homan and fellow Sudbury native) last year.”

“I learned a lot just being there with them and seeing how they run their team as more of a business. That was really educational being there with them.”

“And in the last few years, I’ve gotten a little more into coaching and that’s helped me evolve in terms of how I look at a delivery,” Brunton continued. “Through video analysis, I am able to make corrections to my own delivery.”

It’s all come together nicely as Team Inglis entered the Ontario Scotties as the team to beat, ranked number one in the field based on CTRS (Canadian Team Ranking System) standings.

“We thought that we were in a top group of five or six teams that were likely to be in contention,” acknowledged Brunton. “But it’s a long week and a triple knockout is a bit unpredictable.”

Case in point: the Ontario Scotties final was tied at 2-2 after five ends when things got really interesting. “Danielle (Inglis) made a really nice shot for four in the sixth end and then we all kind of had a panic and gave three back in the next end. We just needed to re-focus.”

Team Inglis did just that, scoring two in the eighth to grab an 8-5 lead and withstand a late push that included single points for Howard in both the ninth and tenth ends.

“We’re really good at having fun,” said Brunton, pointing to just one of the reasons why she likes the make-up of her current rink. “When you’re spending so much time together on the road and playing so many games, and when maybe the results don’t come, you’re still having a good time.”

And whether it be her first “official” Scotties or the tenth of her career at some stage down the road, Kira Brunton is sure to enjoy the experience.

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