Carly Smith, third for Team Brunswick, is unlike any other curler at the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships in the Township of Langley, British Columbia.
In a historical first for any Canadian championship, Smith is an amputee competing among other able bodied curlers and shows no signs of hindrance in play.
“My amputation is above the elbow so I don’t have a lot of flex in that arm,” said Smith about her experiences curling. “I have a specially made prosthetic to play.”
Smith, who slides without a broom and boasts an incredibly sound delivery, has flourished by adapting to being a differently abled athlete. She shot 90% in her Draw 1 match versus Nova Scotia.
“I used to play with no prosthesis and that was a challenge. I would tuck my broom up under my elbow when I swept, but it became unsafe and I would fall a lot,” said Smith. “I went to my prosthetist and they designed this prosthetic specifically for curling. It’s shorter than a normal arm prosthetic and has a specially made end that is actually made for shovelling and yard work.”
The end piece, which allows Smith to grip her broom, is a firm corkscrew style handle that she slides her broom through, giving her a perfect grip on the broom’s shaft.
“It works great. There’s no way my broom can fall out when I’m sweeping no matter how much weight I put on it. It feels natural to have it on and it makes me a better sweeper.”
Team New Brunswick, comprised of skip Melodie Forsythe, third Carly Smith, second Deanna MacDonald, lead/alternate Caylee Smith, lead/alternate Vanessa Roy and coach Tim Forsythe of Curl Moncton fell by a score of 9-7 to team Nova Scotia represented by skip Taylour Stevens, third Lindsey Burgess, second Kate Callaghan, lead Cate Fitzgerald and coach Mary Mattatall of the Halifax Curling Club in their opening draw of the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Championships.
The tightly contested match opened with a blank end while both teams would acclimate to the pristine ice conditions at the George Preston Recreation Centre, which is attached to the Langley Curling Centre. The second end would feature more rocks in play with Nova Scotia applying pressure, forcing New Brunswick Skip Melodie Forsythe in to short run-back against two Nova Scotia stones. The run-back would be missed allowing Nova Scotia skip Taylour Stevens an open draw for three points.
The back and forth nature of the game would continue into the third as New Brunswick would be pressured once again into a run-back situation on Forsythe’s final stone, which she made for a single.
Unfazed by a 3-1 deficit heading into the fourth end, New Brunswick would steal a point before Nova Scotia cashed a clutch double takeout for three points in the fifth. New Brunswick would respond with a single in the sixth end with hammer and seemed to have Nova Scotia in a bind in the seventh, but skip Talour Stevens would again come up clutch and earn her Bluenoser squad a single.
The score now 7-3, New Brunswick rallied for a deuce in the eighth end to close the gap to 7-5 setting up a pivotal game moment in the ninth end. Nova Scotia, with hammer, was looking at a short run-back double against two New Brunswick that would have scored them three points should it be executed. The alternative was a draw weight tap to score a single but the degree of difficulty was exceptionally high. Nova Scotia sensing that this game could hinge on this very shot elected to call for a timeout.
Nova Scotia third Lindsey Burgess recognized the significance of the moment: “We knew that if we make that shot, we put the game away and win. There wasn’t a ton of risk because even if we miss, we’re still tied going into the tenth end with hammer. That’s a good situation to be in.”
Nova Scotia would end up missing that key shot allowing New Brunswick to steal two points, tying the game 7-7.
The tenth end would see New Brunswick poised to steal a single and the game with a tricky rock half buried in the four-foot behind a short guard and a half open Nova Scotia stone corner frozen to the shot stone. Nova Scotia, with hammer, would elect to throw a quiet hit off their own stone in an effort to remove shot rock from play.
Nova Scotia second Kate Callaghan felt confident the game would be won on their final stone: “We didn’t feel much pressure. We have total confidence in Taylour’s throw and we knew that if we hit it anywhere on the high side, the shot is made.”
Taylour Steven’s final stone would indeed be a good one, marking a Nova Scotia victory by a score of 9-7.
“There’s always that little bit of nervousness in the back of your mind. I was a little shaky after the shot but at the moment, I never had a doubt.” said Callaghan.