Edmonton's Walchuk wins Shootout
By Con Griwkowsky, QMI Agency
|Skip Don Walchuk yells instructions to his team during the finals of the Saville Sports Centre's annual World Curling Tour event, The Shoot Out, at the Saville Sports Centre, Sunday. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - Don Walchuk made his return as an Edmonton skip a memorable one as his rink beat Tom Appelman 6-4 to win the September Shootout at the Saville Centre on Sunday.
“I guess the few rocks we threw before we started paid off,” said Walchuk, who was as sharp this weekend as he’s been any time in his Hall of Fame career.
“You know, wow! It’s a brand-new team, first event of the year. To play like we did is very encouraging.”
Walchuk, who has been a third playing out of Winnipeg in recent years, skipped the rink to seven wins in eight starts this weekend.
Even though this weekend went better than the team had expected, Walchuk and his crew of third Chris Schille, second D.J. Kidby and lead Don Bartlett plan to play this season within their limitations.
“It’s a building block for us,” said Walchuk.
“I realize myself that there are a few more shots out there that after a few more games and a bit more confidence, I’ll get even stronger. I think everybody believed we were playing well enough to win and it worked out.”
There are few first-year teams that can be world-beaters and Walchuk plans a more deliberate approach.
“We’re going to try to get to provincials through the Alberta Tour,” said Walchuk. “We’re going to stick close to home and try to build things up. I’m not going to say we’re going to go to all the Slams right now and want to beat ’em all right now. We need to build our way up and I’m confident we will.
“This is just an awesome start. I’m really pleased with the team. It really makes me excited about what’s ahead.”
Oh, sure there was the odd stumble, like the three-ender he gave up in the sixth.
“I had a real brain cramp on that one,” said Walchuk. “If you go on to lose, you feel like a real idiot.”
Lead Don Bartlett had offers from several teams to play this year, but he’s glad he chose to go with his old teammate.
“All weekend, there was probably three or four games that we had to have a shot at a certain time and he came through every time,” said Bartlett. “It’s great to see. Don’s always wanted to skip. He’s tried it before and he’s doing a great job, I’ll tell you that.
“He’s giving us all confidence with the shots he’s making.”
Appelman, subbing in as skip for his brother Ted, made a game of it.
“What can you do?” said Appelman, whose runner-up winnings of $3,000 meant the team was in the money for three straight years.
“All you can do is make him throw his last rock. We hung in. Walchuk made lots of great shots, especially early on.
“It’s kind of a piss-off, really. The shot he made in five for two, I didn’t even think was there. I thought we were stealing one.”
EXTRA ENDS: Walchuk and his fiancee Laurie are expecting a baby girl in November. “The only thing we’re leaving a surprise is the name,” said Walchuk. “Can’t give everything away.” ... mens’s quarterfinalists Pat Simmons, Brendan Bottcher, Brent Bawel and Kevin Martin earned $1,500. Semifinalists Carl deConinck Smith and Rob Schlender earned $2,000 ... women’s quarterfinalists Heather Rankin, Jessie Kaufman, Holly Scott and Renee Sonnenberg took home $1,500. Semifinalists Chelsea Carey and Shannon Kleibrink earned $1,900.