There's a new Canadian curling expert winning over fans with her in-depth knowledge of the sport. Katrina Frlan recently launched a weekly YouTube program called the Lazy Handle Show that has left people astonished by how much she knows about the game.
The reason they're so surprised? Katrina is just 11 years old.
"I think I was very nervous at first about what people might think," says Katrina, who's from Kanata, Ont., in Ottawa's west end. "I thought people might like it because they see a cute little girl, but then I was nervous. Once it got famous and got a lot of views, then I was really happy and I want to keep on going."
Watch Lazy Handle preview curling season with Devin Heroux:
Katrina Frlan is an 11-year-old curling aficionado who started her own curling show on YouTube. Here she previews the upcoming season with CBC Sports' Devin Heroux. 2:55
Katrina posted her first episode at the end of August and didn't really know what to expect. In the 10-minute video, she takes an inside look at the newest Canadian curling teams, breaking down the positions and players and giving her analysis on how they might perform.
"Kevin Koe, you obviously know him because he's a three-time Brier champion. He's amazing," Katrina proclaims in the video. "His new third is B.J. Neufeld, the former third for Mike McEwen. The new second is Colton Flasch. I think this team is the top team right now. Maybe [Brad] Gushue is better, but Koe is right there."
At first, Katrina was worried about putting her opinions out there. In the first episode, she chooses her words carefully while breaking down the teams. But now she's embracing the feedback.
"I was a little worried because of course people are going to disagree and I like that because it means we have different opinions. I don't want everyone to agree with me all the time," she says.
Just try it
Katrina has been a fan of curling since discovering the game five years ago. It was her father, Lou Frlan, who urged her to try it when she was six years old. She wasn't too keen on the idea to begin with.
"I said I didn't want to go. Then my dad said I just had to try it once," Katrina says. "I had a lot of fun. And I just kept watching curling. And I just joined a competitive curling team for the first time."
Curling is her life now. When Katrina comes home from school she watches hours' worth of games. Over the summer she watched every game from the 2018 Olympics, learning the names of all the international players.
"I don't really care who's playing," she says. "My two favourite teams to watch are [John] Epping and [Rachel] Homan. Homan is from Ottawa. That's where I'm from and they're really good. I cheer for Epping because he's so nice and friendly all the time. I want to support a team like that."
After watching those old games, Katrina would go to her bedroom and record herself on her iPad, pretending she was already hosting her own show. One day her father overheard her and suggested she start her own YouTube channel.
The name of the show comes from the term curlers use to describe a rock thrown with poor rotation that stops curling in the intended direction.
"We didn't want to pick a name already used," Katrina says. "Lazy Handle Show didn't seem like it already existed. I really liked it because I see a lot of lazy handles. My dad has some lazy handles."
Katrina says that, because of all of the feedback she's received, she's going to continue posting episodes throughout the season, analyzing bonspiels and making predictions about upcoming events.
Early in the year she's keeping a close eye on three men's teams she believes are going to have successful seasons. Katrina thinks the rinks skipped by Koe, Gushue and Epping are the ones to beat on the men's side.
"I like Gushue. They're a good team. They're going to be the top team. They might have an advantage because they didn't make any changes. I think Epping is coming up too," she says. "Koe's team really gelled fast as we saw at the Curling World Cup. I think they're also going to be one of the top teams."
On the women's side, Katrina has her eyes on Homan, Casey Scheidegger and Kerri Einarson.
"I'm really excited for the season because there are so many new teams," she says.
And you can be sure Katrina will be watching every rock very closely all season and talking about it on her show.
"It's definitely going to go on for a while," she says. "It's pretty fun how this all works."