Dunedin four in top spots

Top honours . . . Curlers (from left) Rachael Pitts, Grace Bishop and Jayden Bishop have been selected in the New Zealand under-21 men's and women's curling teams. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Four Dunedin curlers have been selected in New Zealand teams.

Rachael Pitts (16), Hunter Walker (17), and siblings Grace (17) and Jayden (16) Bishop have been named in the national under-21 men’s and women’s curling teams.

The women’s team will compete in the 2019 World Junior B Curling Championships in Finland later this year, while the men’s team will line up in the 2020 World Junior Championships in Russia in February.

For Hunter and Jayden, it will be their second time donning the silver fern.

Hunter Walker

They were both in the team which finished third at the junior B championships last year and qualified to compete in the A championship a few months later.

The New Zealand team finished sixth, which guaranteed it a spot in the 2020 championship.

Jayden hoped their experience last season would help this time around.

“We know the level that we have to play to stay in there and do well.”

Hunter, a boarder at Otago Boy’s High School, said they knew the kind of pressure they would be under in Russia.

“A’s was a whole other level.”

Rachael and Grace were new to the women’s team, and were looking forward to the challenge.

They were all selected from an under-21 tournament in Naseby in July.

Hunter, of Maniototo, has been curling for about nine years and grew up playing at the rink every Friday.

He appreciated that the sport gave him the opportunity to travel around the world, including to Canada and Russia.

“I am doing it before I have even left high school.”

Jayden and Grace, both of Kavanagh College, were introduced to the sport by their uncle, Kavanagh College teacher Lawrence Bishop, who is also their coach.

Jayden said having a family member as coach was beneficial.

“It’s really easy to talk to him.”

He liked how tactical and physical the game was.

“You always have to think about the next move.”

Grace liked that the game involved a lot of teamwork.

“Everyone has a really important role and a thing to do to help.”

Rachael, an Otago Girls’ High School pupil, took up the sport about four years ago for fun with her friends.

“It’s competitive but not as aggressive player on player [as other sports].”