Middaugh 'wobbles' to victory

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Wobbly is one word never associated with Sherry Middaugh.

She's known throughout the curling world for her smooth delivery and rock-solid form.

On the rare occasion when she is wobbly, you'd better take advantage of it because Middaugh doesn't give people many second chances.

That proved to be the script in the final of the 8th Annual Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel at Highland Country Club yesterday.

The Middaugh rink from Coldwater gave Uxbridge's Janet McGhee a big opening midway through their final.

But McGhee let Middaugh off the hook, having trouble finding her draw weight.

Middaugh shook off a bad end and came back to win three straight ends to take home the $11,000 first prize. She finished with a nine-end, 11-8 victory.

It sure didn't appear that was how things would work out, especially after a rather strange sixth end.

Middaugh was leading 5-4 but was looking at three McGhee rocks in the house. It looked as if Middaugh would spill at least two of them but, as she began her delivery, her foot slipped to the side and she almost fell. She managed to regain her balance but threw the rock wide of its intended mark.

She joined her teammates with a sheepish smile.

"It was wobbly all right," Middaugh said. "It was the worse possible time. My foot just got away from me."

McGhee had an open draw for four. She almost pulled the string. It took frantic sweeping from her rink of Julie Reddick, Lori Eddy and Mary Chilvers to pull the rock into the house.

Although she managed to score four and take an 8-5 lead, the lack of touch was a sign of things to come.

Middaugh drew for two in the seventh and stole one in the eighth to tie 8-8 when McGhee was heavy with another draw.

Middaugh put plenty of rocks in play in the ninth. She had two at the top of the 12-foot, making the button difficult to access. With the final rock, McGhee had to go wide and was heavy.

The steal of three for Middaugh sealed the win in what was an interesting final with both rinks making some outstanding shots.

"I didn't play very well this week," McGhee said. "I struggled with my draw weight all week. Lucky my rink played well or we wouldn't have been here.

"I threw (the rock in the ninth) a little heavy. There were clear patches on the ice out there; the ice was fresher and it just kept going."

Inconsistent draw weight is not unusual this early in the season. Some of the teams hadn't had much time to practise.

McGhee says her rink is pointing to the 2005 Olympic trials in Halifax.

"I'm happy with how our team is playing. This is our third event and we made our second final," McGhee said.

"Hmm, two finals and two losses. We're playing well but we've already lost in two finals and that's not a good feeling."

McGhee's rink still went home with $7,000.

Middaugh's rink of Andrea Lawes, Sheri Cordina and Kirsten Wall skipped two events early in the year and went to Ottawa where they worked on some new releases and saw a sports psychologist.

"We played in Calgary last week and played well," Middaugh said. "But there were some inconsistencies here. I don't know how we even made it through to the final. In our first game we were down 9-3 or 10-3 and managed to come back and win."

She came back against Whitby's Marcia Wagner to win 12-10. Middaugh reached the final with a 9-3 eight-end win over Chrissy Cadorin of St. Thomas.

McGhee defeated Jenn Hanna of Ottawa 8-7 by scoring two in the 10th.

Organizers expect the 40-rink event to raise $16,000 to $20,000 for breast cancer research. There's nothing wobbly about that.


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