Two strikes, two swings, two misses and it’s down to a full count for Kelly Scott of Kelowna, the 2007 world champion who’s at bat in the Olympic curling pre-trails here.
Scott missed her second straight chance to qualify for the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials at Edmonton next month when she surrendered 6-3 to a hot-shooting Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay in the B final on Friday afternoon at the CN Centre.
McCarville and her team of Tara George, Kari MacLean and Lorraine Lang will be the sixth team in the eight-team starting gate at Edmonton’s Rexall Place while Scott faces Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., in a last-gasp qualifier at 11:30 am. (PT) Saturday.
For defending Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue, meanwhile, the Olympic pre-trials of which he’d been a severe critic for some time, turned into an unmitigated disaster on Friday.
Gushue lost his third straight game (7-5) and exited the scene when he “ran into a buzz-saw” in the person of 2006 Brier champion Jean-Michel Menard.
“We made some mistakes in that fourth end and Jean-Michel’s guys made everything,” said Gushue who fell behind 5-2 at that point and never fully recovered.
“They just kept making great shots to take everything away. It’s one of those games, if you play that well you win 100 per cent of the games you play but . . . they just played better.
“I guess we came in here with targets on our backs. We played four tough teams. I guess maybe in four years time the target will be a little smaller and we’ll be able to get through this.”
McCarville, who celebrated her 27th birthday on Tuesday, gave Scott few chances in their final. “We never had any bad shots and we kept them on their toes,” said the new mother, who’s sleeping at the hotel with a new baby in the room between assignments.
“It’s amazing,” said McCarville. “She’s the best baby, sleeping eight hours a night. I don’t know if she knows mommy’s curling but she’s giving me a lot of rest.”
The final was a tight-fit until McCarville cracked a tiebreaking seventh-end deuce, held her opponent to one in the eighth and the pounded another killer pair on the board in the ninth.
“Every year, we never curled our best at the Scotties and I went home and wondered why,” said McCarville. “We’ve played with more confidence here and I’m thinking we’re starting to believe that we deserve to be here. We’re starting to believe that we’re good enough and we can curl just like the Joneses and those top four teams.
“The very first game here I struggled a little bit and I thought about it and I said to myself, ‘this is how you felt at the Scotties and you don’t want to feel this way’. And Rick (coach Lang) gave me a little pep talk and told me, ‘you can shoot and have the confidence,’ and from that second game on I’ve felt really good with the ice and with my shooting. I had to believe that I am good enough to be here and good enough to skip my team and the team is good enough.”
Scott admitted her team could get nothing going in a second straight qualifying final.
“I guess we’re going for max TV time,” she said. “It’s frustrating. Neither of those teams (Webster, McCarville) gave us much to work with. They had the kind of consistency that wins you games and we were forced to play catch-up. We just couldn’t seem to get our offence going.”
In a C1 qualifying match, Sherry Middaugh sidelined Heather Rankin of Calgary 7-4 while Amber Holland of Kronau, SK., slammed Cathy King of Edmonton with the exit door — 10-4.
Said Menard of his key knockout blow, “We played a very good game and were able to control a very high offensive team like Brad Gushue’s by positioning our rocks properly around the corner guards every end.
“I feel sorry for Brad because he’s put in a lot of effort the past few years. But we weren’t interested in going out of here, either.”
Menard plays Wayne Middaugh of Toronto in a C semi-final Saturday morning.