How Sweeting it is

TODD SAELHOF, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Alberta's elite curling sorority just got a little younger.

Add Vegreville's Valerie Sweeting to the sisterhood after the 22-year-old skip and her rink upset one of the province's top teams to win the 2010 Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts yesterday at the Calgary Curling Club.

Sweeting and her Edmonton squad stunned Calgary super-curler Shannon Kleibrink 9-7 in an extra end to claim the provincial title and carry Alberta's colours into the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Jan. 30-Feb. 7 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"I'm amazed," said the young skip during a subdued celebration just moments after pulling off the surprise win.

"We're shocked, to be honest. We were obviously the underdogs here -- no one was expecting us to win.

"We had to keep calm the whole game, and we did that."

And how.

Facing Kleibrink and her three Alberta titles for the first time, Sweeting never trailed in the finale.

Trading two-enders most of the way, Sweeting played the 11th end with the hammer and used it to perfection. With a Kleibrink rock sitting closest to the pin, the Saville Sports Centre skip executed a centre-line runback to move the enemy stone just enough to count two of her own for the victory.

"We stuck together -- we just took it shot-for-shot," said Sweeting, who is flanked by 23-year-old third Megan Einarson, 22-year-old second Whitney More and 21-year-old lead Lindsay Makichuk. "We knew that if we kept it close and took our chances when we were given them, then there was no reason we couldn't win."

The loss leaves Kleibrink the runner-up for the second straight high-profile event, after she and her Calgary Winter Club rink of third Amy Nixon, second Bronwen Webster and lead Chelsey Bell fell in the finale of the Olympic Trials in December to Calgarian Cheryl Bernard.

"Equally disappointing as last month," said Kleibrink of the loss. "We're getting used to standing on the wrong side (of the championship celebration)."

Kleibrink thought she was on the right side of the party as her last rock of the 10th end seemed destined to pick out a Sweeting stone at the back of the ice. She even raised her arms in celebration as the stone slid toward the house.

"I thought we had it, but at the very last second, it curled four more inches," said Kleibrink of a shot that left her to count two for the tie instead of three for the win. We did everything we could. We made some pretty money freezes in those last two ends to get back in it.

"She just hung right in there and made all her shots."

"They were hot, for sure," continued a gracious Kleibrink. "They made a few cross-ice doubles and some shots that worked out for them. In the sixth end, she had a shot for five but only got two -- we just narrowly escaped that."

In yesterday's semi, Sweeting and Co. upset seven-time Alberta champ Cathy King 8-3 as part of five straight wins en route to the crown and a spot in the Canadian championship.

"It's a dream come true," said Sweeting, the 2004 Alberta juvenile women's queen and '07 Saskatchewan junior women's champion. "It's everyone's dream growing up to play in the Scotties.

"It's just hard to believe that it came true when we're so young."

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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