Unsung and unheralded teams have been known to emerge big-time at Canadian Olympic curling trials and Crystal Webster’s Calgary team fits that description.
Webster, a self-admitted non-winner heading into the Road to the Roar pre-trials at the CN Centre, on Thursday afternoon directed third Lori Olson-Johns, second Sam Preston and lead Stephanie Malekoff to a berth in the eight-team women’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials at Edmonton next month by upending 2007 world champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna 9-7.
Webster executed a precise last-rock takeout with the game’s final shot to get the job done and move on to Edmonton.
It was Webster’s fourth straight win since the event started Tuesday morning. Scott gassed an open draw in the first end of the women’s A-qualifying final and gave up a whopping four points, then spent the next eight ends hauling her team back into contention.
Scott had it tied by the end of four exchanges and the teams traded points the rest of the way but Webster tenaciously refused to relinquish control and held the hammer at the finish.
“Obviously, getting four straight wins is a great way to go,” said a jubilant Webster. “It was great getting that jump-start but I told the girls it was a long game and it’s hard to protect a lead for that long. I had a feeling it would still come down to a tight game in the end.”
It certainly did. Scott, angling to steal, had an opportunity to stash away a counter on the four-foot behind a guard with her first rock but drew deep, behind the four-foot.
Webster peeled the guard and Scott was unable to place either a perfect guard or a second counter in the rings with her last stone.
“I threw it (last rock) lighter than what we wanted and that’s why it didn’t get the line we wanted,” explained Scott.
Scott still has two lives remaining in the triple-knockout playoff and will face Marie-France Larouche of St-Romuald, QC ., in the B qualifying semi-final today at 6:30 p.m. Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay and Amber Holland of Kronau, SK, will contest the other semi.
“After a loss like that you want to get right back it, so it’s good,” said Scott. “It’s better than waiting around for tomorrow.”
Webster joins Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon, Shannon Kleibrink and Cheryl Bernard of Calgary in the Olympic trials race at Edmonton.
In men’s action, Ted Appelman of Edmonton upended defending Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s 7-6 with a double theft in the last end.
Appelman buried two rocks and Gushue, with his last, was attempting to cut his foe to one and force overtime but his last rock failed to curl sufficiently.
With the win, Appelman moved to the B-qualifying semi-finals against Mike McEwen of Winnipeg. Gushue tumbled back into the last-chance C-2 qualifier where he’ll need to win three. His first will be against 2006 Brier champion Jean-Michel Menard of St-Romuald on Friday afternoon.
“We have to get a few things straightened out before then,” Gushue said of his struggle to date.
Teams skipped by Greg McAulay of Richmond, B.C. and Joel Jordison of Moose Jaw were tossed out the exit door in C-1 quarter-finals.
McAulay allowed steals of one in the ninth end and two in the 10th to bow 6-5 to Kerry Burtnyk of Winnipeg. Jordison also gave up ninth and 10th-end steals to fall 5-3 in front of Jason Gunnlaugson of Beausejour, Manitoba.
Later today, Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg and Pat Simmons of Davidson will contest the first men’s Olympic trials berth to be decided here.