Alberta’s Wade Thurber is a once-a-week curler who likes the game of curling for its social aspects and a bit of competitiveness.
But he and his team proved Saturday that even social curlers can aspire to loftier heights and become national champions.
Thurber and the rest of his Red Deer Curling Centre outfit put on a solid display of curling Saturday afternoon to defeat previously unbeaten Greg Balsdon of Ontario 6-2 Saturday to win the men’s title at The Dominion Curling Club Championship in Richmond, BC.
Thurber, who finished 5-1 in his pool, said he tried a different strategy in the final against Balsdon, who was on a roll this week and looked invincible.
“We decided to junk it up against Greg, and just see what happens.”
The strategy paid off as the Albertans jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, increased it to 4-1 after five ends, and scored another deuce in the seventh to make it 6-2.
Thurber admitted he was fortunate just to be in the big game. Earlier in the day he needed to score three in the final end to pull out a hard-fought 7-6 victory over Newfoundland & Labrador’s Paul Harvey in the semifinals.
“We got extremely lucky there,” said Thurber, who was supported in Richmond by third Harvey Kelts, second Rick Hjertaas and lead Eldon Rabb. “He (Harvey) wrecked on a guard with his final shot and gave me an easy hit.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Balsdon who cruised through his round-robin pool with a perfect 6-0 record. His Richmond Hills team advanced to the final earlier in the day with a 6-4 win over Northern Ontario’s Dale Dubinsky of Kakabecka Falls in the semifinals, and looked poised to win the men’s title with his crew of third Jordon Keon, third Curtis Samoy and lead Kevin Roberts,
But one step away from the big prize, Balsdon came up flat against a group of tigers from Alberta. The Ontario skip struggled with draw weight throughout the game, throwing heavy on two draws in the first end to give Alberta a steal of one, then coming up light on a draw in the second end to allow another steal. He pulled light yet again in the fifth end to yield another steal to make it 4-1.
Balsdon’s only bright spot was a sensational angle-raise triple-takeout in the third to score one point.
The Dominion Curling Club Championship is fully funded and operated by The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company. The Dominion is a proud supporter of curling across Canada and has been a strong supporter of the Canadian Paraplegic Association for over 13 years. Canadian owned and operated since 1887, today The Dominion is one of the country’s largest home, car and business insurers. Get to know The Dominion by visiting thedominion.ca.