February 20, 2011
Foster, Hannah senior champs
By TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency
CALGARY - She may be the King of Alberta women’s curling.
But Diane Foster is — undoubtedly — the provincial queen in senior circles.
To prove her power, Foster won her second straight crown Sunday afternoon — 6-4 over Edmonton’s Cathy King — for her fourth title in the last six years.
“Yahoo!” said Foster, after the championship draw triumph over the seven-time Alberta women’s champion at the Calgary Curling Club.
“You have to remember — I’m a three-time (senior) curling champion, and I don’t think Cathy’s won more world championships than I have,” continued the 2008 global queen with a wink and a smile. “No … It feels excellent. It was a strong, strong showing by us.”
While King, the 1998 women’s world bronze medallist, admitted the matinee final was her team’s worst game of the five-day Alberta Seniors, Foster deserved full marks for staying one step ahead of the rookie senior.
Foster, third June Campbell, second Karen Morrison and lead Glenna Rubin of the Acadia Recreation Complex owned a 3-2 advantage at the fifth-end break, got two in the first end in what was a defensive game and never let the Edmonton rink draw into the lead.
The key end was the seventh, as Foster used the hammer to tap back a King rock and count two, giving her squad a 5-3 lead.
In the eighth, King tried to raise her own rock onto the button for a deuce but hit it too thick and counted just one, giving Foster control for the ninth, where she counted one more and then ran King out of rocks in the final end to put the game — and the title for curlers age 50-plus— out of reach.
“We had two losses in the roundrobin, and after we lost that second one, it made us really want to win,” said Foster, whose rink finished with a 5-2 record behind the 6-1 first-place mark put up by King, fellow Edmontonian Faye White and Calgarians Barbara McDonald and Heather Paul Scott of Edmonton’s Saville Sports Centre. “At last year’s provincials, we went without any losses, and it became nerve-wracking as we went along because you always think there’s one that’s going to come along.”
Foster’s second-place record put her in Sunday morning’s semifinal against Edmonton’s Kathy Odegard, whom she upended 6-5 in an extra end, moving her into the afternoon final against King, who was making her first appearance in a senior provincials after a stellar career in women’s curling.
“I would say I took this year in seniors very seriously,” said Foster, who takes her rink to the 2011 Canadian Seniors in Digby, N.S., March 19-26. “At the beginning of the year, I wanted to put together a winning team for seniors and I didn’t focus much on ladies’ playdowns. I think that’s why I’ve been so successful in both this season.”
On the men’s side, Brad Hannah can finally call himself an Alberta king.
After a run of near-misses and stumbles down the stretch in past championships, the Edmonton skip and his crew claimed the provincial men’s title Sunday afternoon .
“How about that?” Hannah said.
“We’ve been knocking at the door for a long time,” Hannah continued. “It might be our turn.”
In what was a rematch of last year’s Alberta final, Hannah got the better of fellow Edmontonian Mark Johnson this time around with a 10-5 score.
“Last rock last year — Mark made his,” Hannah said. “But we’re all such good friends. There’s nobody I’d rather lose to than Mark.”
In fact, Hannah will join Johnson as the fifth man for the 2011 World Seniors — Johnson’s reward for winning last year’s national crown.
Meanwhile, Hannah, third Gary Greening, Don McKenzie and Lance Dealy of the Saville Sports Centre will vie for their own Canadian title.
“Digby, N.S. — we might have a little bit of seafood,” Hannah said of the bid for national glory and a chance to advance to the 2012 World Seniors. “That might mean two straight trips to the world championships — I just thought of that.”
Hannah & Co. proved to be the top team throughout the roundrobin, losing only once in seven draws — that, of course, to Johnson.
But the 6-1 record gave them a bye into the final, where they awaited an opponent.
Johnson and veterans Marv Wirth, Ken McLean and Millard Evans of Edmonton’s Thistle Curling Club scored an easy semifinal victory over Sexsmith’s Colin Griffith. They counted four in one end and stole three more in the next end to earn their way into the finale.
In the championship matinee, Hannah put up three in the second end to take a 5-4 advantage with last rock through five ends. The Saville squad then stayed one step ahead of Johnson & Co. until the eighth, when Greening made a stellar shot to count four and ice the title.
“One for the ages,” said Hannah of Greening’s shot that was a raised takeout to remove two Johnson stones off the button. “We played the wide one (to raise) because we looked the angle better, and Gary nutted it. I can’t say we were completely confident in the shot, but we knew if we made it, it was game over.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what it feels like for us. It’s pretty exciting for a bunch of old fellas.”