Curler hopes it's deja vu all over again

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

ILDERTON -- Does Deb McCormick believe in omens?

After yesterday, you'd better believe it.

McCormick, of Madison, Wis., won her second Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel with a 10-7 victory over defending champion Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater. McCormick's other cashspiel title came in 2002 -- the following spring, she was women's world champion.

"And we did it the same way this time -- coming out of the C flight," said McCormick, whose rink of Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad and Natalie Nicholson won $11,000.

That's not a bad way to start a season with a new second in Joraanstad and the fact Nicholson, the team's fifth player, was replacing Tracy Sachtjen, out for a while with a leg problem.

"Our first goal was to qualify and I felt confident we would -- then we got bumped into the C flight," said McCormick, whose grandmother Bertha Henry and aunt and uncle Randy and Cindy Henry live in London. "But the more games we played, the better we played together and once you qualify, everything else is behind you and it's like starting over."

Nicholson had to leave after the sixth end in order to catch her flights home to Bemidji, Minn., where -- there's that omen thing again -- the U.S. nationals will be played in March.

"You start thinking, 'Should I be taking a little more ice (with only one sweeper)?' It does get into your head," said McCormick, who led 5-1 after four ends as Middaugh struggled early.

The three-time Ontario champ fought back to tie it 5-5 with a steal of two in the sixth, but the seventh end proved pivotal as McCormick scored three with an open hit. Middaugh and her third, Kirsten Wall, both narrowly missed difficult doubles and left a McCormick stone biting the rings.

"Sherry's so good at angles, they could have made those," said McCormick, who made an open hit in the 10th against two for the game's final point. "But I knew I'd be throwing my last shot in the 10th the entire way, because they'd stolen two to tie it before."

Middaugh, who has Andrea Lawes and Sheri Cordina as her front end, pocketed $7,000 to follow on a cashspiel win in Norway and a qualifying finish at the Weston in Ottawa.

"That's what happens when you don't make the shots," she said of her early deficit. "We'd picked up a few mismatched rocks in the practice, but this was just a case of not making the right shot at the right time.

"We certainly had them under the gun early, but I didn't make my last shot."

Next up for Middaugh are the Olympic trials in Halifax in December. She was the first women's skip to qualify, 2 1/2 years ago.

In yesterday morning's semifinals, McCormick scored one in the 10th to edge defending Ontario champ Jenn Hanna of Ottawa CC 7-6, while Middaugh took two in the 10th to beat four-time Ontario champ Anne Merklinger of Ottawa Rideau 8-7.

Hanna and Merklinger both earned $4,000.

The losing quarter-finalists -- Heather Strong of St. John's, 1999 world junior women's champ Silvana Tirinzoni of Duebendorf, Switzerland, Alison Goring of Thornhill Bayview and Janet McGhee of Uxbridge -- all took home $2,250.


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