Both teams needed a little last rock magic to win at the 2019 Red Deer Curling Classic.
For James Pahl and his team out of Edmonton, they needed a hit and stick for two with the hammer to win 8-7 over Surrey, B.C.’s Tyler Tardi.
“Seventh end we decided to give them a steal, our record this year has been really good one down playing eight. We’ve been fortunate enough to score a lot of deuces and we got one here,” said Pahl.
“We put our rocks in a really good spot for that and got lucky that he jammed and had a wide-open hit for the win.”
On the women’s side, Jamie Sinclair hit a perfect tap with her second to last stone, then put one tight with her last and got a miss from Brette Richards to steal the 8-6 victory in the eighth end.
“That’s what I live for, the pressure,” joked Sinclair.
“No, the draw and the tap, I just lobbed it close and my sweepers took it in, it was all them.”
Sinclair up 5-2 after 4 and Tardi and Pahl tied at 4 after 6 https://t.co/NK4cu4jwpm
— Byron Hackett (@RDAbyronhackett) November 19, 2019
Sinclair said her team faltered a bit at the midway point, after building a 5-2 lead through five ends. Richards scored two in both the fifth and sixth, before Sinclair and her team tied it at six heading into the last.
“It was a really good game, I felt like we had a really strong start, then fifth and sixth end there was definitely a little bit of a lull. It’s been a long day, felt ourselves getting a little bit tired,” she said.
“They managed to put a little bit of pressure on us and make a comeback, we were shaking in our boots the last end. We had a really good last end, we said just buckle down, make eight good shots. Really proud of the team for staying with it right to the end.”
While the finish was similar, both had drastically different goals coming into the week.
For Pahl’s rink, simply earning enough points so they didn’t have to play in their district qualifier was the original aim.
After what he called a “skip’s error” in their opening game loss, the group rattled off seven straight victories to earn the $10,000 top prize at the Pidherny Centre.
“Our initial goal was to come here qualify and get a chance to go to provincials, because of the Alberta Curling Tour points we accumulate for the season,” he said.
“We felt that if we had a good weekend here we would have a chance to bypass our district playdowns, now that we won here, we may have given ourselves a very good chance of doing that.”
The win in the final came against a Tadri team that are the two-time world junior champions and went 7-1 at the classic up until that point and outscored teams 29-11 in its last four wins.
Pahl, who figures he won the bonspiel in Red Deer almost 17 years ago, also said it was a proud moment to get the win with his current group including Glenn Kenedy, Roland Robinson and Craig MacAlpine.
Sinclair and her team on the other hand, are an up and coming group with their sights set on the 2020 Olympics. They are the three-time U.S. National Champions and are members of the Charlotte Curling Association in Charlotte, North Carolina.
That’s far from the whole story, as Sinclair, 27, was born in Anchorage, Alaska but grew up just outside of Ottawa in Ontario.
Five years ago she committed full time to curling in the U.S. and her team is spread out across the States.
Cory Christensen and Taylor Anderson are from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Vicky Persinger lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. They meet once a month and will curl in about 13 events this season before spending most of the 2020 season training together in Minnesota ahead of an Olympic qualifying bid.
It was their first time at the Red Deer Curling Classic and safe to say they were happy to collect the $10,000 grand prize.
“It’s been good for our team to get a little bit of positive momentum. It’s been a slow start to the season for us,” Sinclair said.
“This has been huge just as far as getting confidence back. It’s been awesome in Red Deer, the ice is fantastic and we’ve had a really good time.”