Ludmila Privivkova of the Russian national team watches her rock as her teammate Ekaterina Galkina sweeps during a practice Thursday.

Ludmila Privivkova of the Russian national team watches her rock as her teammate Ekaterina Galkina sweeps during a practice Thursday.

Russians ready to drop Anchor

Liudmila Privivkova and her Russian women's rink will be in action this weekend at the Twin Anchors Classic at the Vernon Curling Club.

When she’s not curling, Liudmila Privivkova of Russia is working towards a PhD in economics.

With that mindset, the 25-year-old calendar girl had no trouble switching numbers with Anna Sidorova. Privivkova took over third duties and called the shots, while Sidorova tossed fourth rocks last weekend in Regina.

The change, recommended by the team’s coach, paid instant dividends as Privivkova pocketed $12,000 by winning the 30-team Schmirler Curling Classic.

“It was pretty tough,” smiled Privivkova, after a 90-minute practice on sheet five Thursday at the Vernon Curling Club. “We played 10 games and we made (won) two tiebreakers to make the playoffs. We beat Cheryl Bernard (of Calgary) twice.”

Privivkova, who went 3-6 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, lost 4-2 to Bernard in last year’s cashspiel final. She enjoyed the change in Regina.

“It was good. It (playing third) is different because you have to control the weight of the stone from the sweeper position.”

The Privivkova rink, which also includes Ekatrina Galkina and Nkeiruka Ezekh, will now chase a share of the $35,00 women’s purse in the Twin Anchors Classic at the Vernon club. The Russians are especially stoked this season since the European Championships are in Moscow.

A total of 24 foursomes began play Thursday night with Alyssa Kyllo representing Vernon. First place is worth $7,500 with the runner-up earning $5,500 and the losing semifinalists pocketing $4,000. The women’s final goes Sunday at 3 p.m.

Kyllo, a 20-year-old, third-year UBC Okanagan student, has added 15-year-old Shayna Doll to her roster. Amy Edwards is third and Zetteh Gunner plays second.

Kyllo won’t be in awe of Privivkova or the likes of former world champion Kelley Law of New Westminster, ex-Canadian winner Kelly Scott of Kelowna and veterans Marla Mallet of Langley and Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary.

“Shayna doesn’t recognize any names and the rest of us know what they have done and where they’re going,” said Kyllo. “At the end of the day, any team can be beaten so you just have to play it.”

Kyllo and Edwards have mutual respect as they discuss strategy.

“She’s definitely got some valid points. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s very intelligent,” said Kyllo of Edwards.

Kyllo faces Scott in today’s 10:30 draw with Privivkova meeting Nicole Backe of Nanaimo in the 4:30 draw. The women earn $100 for each round-robin victory.

Vernon’s Chelan Cotter is second for Patti Knezevic’s Prince George entry.

On the men’s side, there are 16 rinks going for $24,000. Defending champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton is back and opens against young Tyler Klymchuk of Langley in today’s first draw at 1 p.m.

Koe is seeking a third straight win in Vernon. He brushed back 22-year-old Russian Andrey Drozdov 5-2 in last year’s final.

Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons will team up with Koe, replacing retired third Blake MacDonald.

Simmons skipped Saskatchewan at four straight Briers from 2005-08, and threw fourth stones for Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier. Simmons, 36, is a chiropractor in Moose Jaw.

Vernon’s Jim Cotter, who won the provincials last year, has added Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna, who will play second. Kevin Folk moves up to third and Rick Sawatzky throws lead rocks and sweeps until he drops.

Trevor Perepolkin is the other Vernon rink on the men’s side. The men’s final goes Monday at 3 p.m. The semis are at noon.

The 8 p.m. Saturday draw is open free to the public, followed by a dance with entertainment by Mace, in the lounge.