The road least traveled doesn’t always lead to success on the World Curling Tour.
In fact, the 2013 Red Deer Curling Classic champions both took the long route to their respective paydays, earning virtual last-minute quarter-final berths by qualifying out of the C event Sunday night.
“Maybe it should (always) happen like this,” chuckled second Franziska Kaufmann of the victorious Swiss rink skipped by Binia Feltscher, following a 7-1 win over Kristie Moore of Sexsmith in Monday’s women’s championship final at the Pidherney Centre.
The foursome arrived in Canada two weeks ago and competed in the WCT’s Manitoba Liquour and Lotteries Women’s Classic Oct. 25-28 at Winnipeg before heading to Red Deer. The team planned to fly home to Switzerland today.
“In Winnipeg we had good games as well, but actually here we had two losses at the beginning and from the third game on we had very good play each time,” said Kaufmann, referring to the quartet’s 6-0 record following their 0-2 start.
Two sheets over, Brock Virtue’s Regina foursome got by Jeff Richard of Kelowna 4-3 in the men’s final. Virtue and his supporting cast of third Braeden Moskowy, second Chris Schille of Red Deer and lead D.J. Kirby, dropped to the C event Saturday night and ran off six straight wins to pocket the first prize of $10,000.
“Coming back from the back of the C event this weekend, qualifying (for the quarter-finals) and then coming in today and running the table to win the tournament . . . this was an awesome victory for us,” said Virtue. “This is our first Tour victory and we’re really excited about the way we’re playing right now.”
The defending Saskatchewan men’s champions appeared ready to surrender the lead in the final when Richard was left with a tap-back for two in the fifth end.
However, the 2010 B.C. champion was narrow with his final shot and ticked a guard, leaving Virtue with a steal of one and a 4-2 cushion.
“That could have been a turning point, another was the first steal of one to go up by one (3-2) in the fourth,” said Virtue. “But yeah, when I gave him the opportunity to get two and we stole again . . . that was a turning point. Given the conditions we had out there today, I thought we handled it very well and played good enough to win.
“There was a lot of things going on with the ice, things that were uncontrollable. But it was happening to both teams. We were kind of on the lucky side of that today.”
There was nothing lucky about the manner in which Feltscher and teammates third Irene Schori, Kaufmann and lead Christine Urech clinched the women’s title and the accompanying $7,000 cheque. The eventual champs blew open a 1-1 game with three in the fifth end, then stole a single point in the sixth and swiped two more in the seventh, setting up the congratulatory handshakes.
“That’s perfect. We’re very happy about this win and we can use the money for maybe coming again,” said Kaufmann.
The Swiss women are hoping that their brief visit to Canada and exposure to top-notch competition will boost their chances of excelling in their home country’s playdowns and beyond.
“In Canada you have lots of teams, lots of good teams,” said Kaufmann. “In Switzerland, for example, there are only seven (competitive) teams. That’s a big difference.”
Feltscher was a 5-2 winner over Trish Paulsen of Saskatoon in a Monday morning quarter-final, then followed with a 5-2 semifinal conquest of Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge. Moore, who earned $5,000, beat Alina Paetz of Switzerland 6-3 in the semifinals after posting a 8-7 quarter-final win over Jill Thurston of Winnipeg.
The Paetz and Scheidegger teams each pocketed $3,500, while the quarter-final losers — including Allison MacInnes of Kamloops and Korea’s Eunjung Kim — each earned $2,500. MacInnes lost 7-6 to Paetz Monday morning, while Kim fell 6-5 to Scheidegger.
Virtue downed Oskar Eriksson of Sweden 6-4 in a quarter-final, then rolled over Rob Schlender of Airdrie 9-4 in semifinal play. Richard defeated Trevor Perepolkin of Vernon 9-7 following a 7-6 quarter-final win over Brad Heidt of Kerrobert, Sask.
Richard earned $7,000 as the runner-up. The losing semifinalists each picked up $4,500 and the unsuccessful quarter-final rinks, including Tom Appelman of Edmonton — a 5-4 loser to Perepolkin — and Josh Heidt of Kerrobert, who fell 5-3 to Schlender, each won $3,000.
The Virtue foursome will compete in two more WCT events prior to the Saskatchewan men’s playdowns.
“We hope to build off of this and stay on a roll,” said the skip, whose team posted a 5-6 record in the 2013 Brier. “If we can just keep getting better and better and peak at the right time, we’ll be on the right track.