CALGARY - You could say it was a perfect combination of veteran experience and youthful exuberance that all came together at the perfect time for the winning rink at this weekend’s $54,000 Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Classic at the Calgary Curling Club.
When the dust had settled, it was former world champion Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg and her rink of third Jenna Loder, second Ashley Howard and lead Breanne Meakin that took home the big prize as champions of the Asham World Curling Tour’s Grand Slam.
“We really rose to the occasion,” said a happy Overton-Clapham after her team’s 7-2 championship final win over the reigning Alberta-champion Shannon Kleibrink rink of Calgary. “We had a fantastic bonspiel. We played really well and had some breaks along the way. It’s really exciting for us to win this.”
While curling pundits may have picked the Kleibrink rink as the favourite coming into the final game, this one was clearly in Overton-Clapham’s control from start to finish.
“It’s always hard. Any competitor hates losing, and I hate losing,” said Amy Nixon, who was serving as skip for the Kleibrink rink while the world-class shot-caller recovered from minor surgery.
“Cathy and her team played very well. They are very deserving winners. But in the grand scheme of things, I think we can be very proud of ourselves.”
As well as having Nixon, the team’s regular third, playing skip, the Kleibrink rink was also using the temporary services of Olympic silver medallist Carolyn Darbyshire at second. Regular second Bronwen Webster moved up to third ,and the team’s lead, Chelsey Matson, remained throwing first stones.
Together, they had put together 13 consecutive wins in WCT play up to that point.
For Overton-Clapham, a winner of five national crowns and one world title, claiming top prize this weekend in Calgary means a lot, especially considering it’s the first season the team that includes the daughter of two-time men’s world champion Russ Howard has played together.
“It’s nice to have three energetic, enthusiastic great players,” Overton-Clapham said. “We were super excited to qualify. To come out on top is only going to help us and make us stronger.”
In the final, Overton-Clapham built a 3-1 lead after four ends and increased it to a 5-2 margin after six.
In the seventh, with Overton-Clapham sitting first and second shot, Nixon attempted a difficult run-back double but wrecked on a guard. The two points put Overton-Clapham up 7-2, and the rinks shook hands.
While it was the local Kleibrink rink that was on the biggest tear heading into Monday’s eight-rink championship draw, the reigning Alberta queens weren’t the only local contingent making a statement.
In total, four local rinks reached the playoff round.
Dana Ferguson, Crystal Webster and 2010 Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard also secured playoff spots before suffering quarterfinal losses.
In the quarters, all three were ousted but not before valiant efforts.
It was the Kleibrink foursome that eliminated Ferguson 7-6 in extra ends, while Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., defeated Bernard 5-4 in a game that also went to extra ends.
The Webster rink lost a close 7-5 quarterfinal battle to Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont.
Earlier in the ’spiel, Webster said the road to playoff qualification at the Classic is always a challenging one.
“Obviously, playing yourself into a qualifier, that’s what you need to do here. We want to just keep playing better every game,” Webster said of her relatively newlook team, made up of third Erin Carmody, second Geri-Lynn Ramsay, both members of P.E.I.’s second-place team at the 2010 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and lead Sam Preston.
For Webster, the road to Monday’s final eight included key wins over Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, Grande Prairie’s Renee Sonnenberg and Amber Holland of Kronau, Sask., Canada’s defending national champion earlier in the ’spiel.
Kid fits in
When you’re 16, you’d think playing against some of the world’s best players would be intimidating.
Especially if you haven’t been in a World Curling Tour event, or even a juvenile provincial competition before.
Not so for Janais DeJong, the daughter of Grande Prairie skip Delia DeJong.
“She’s doing awesome,” mom Delia said of Janais, who filled in as lead for the team this weekend. “I was more nervous for her coming in to this event than I think she was. She’s lovin’ it out there. She’s a competitive golfer, so she’s in her element out there.”
Petryk comes close
In men’s play this Thanksgiving weekend, Calgary’s Dan Petryk was just a game shy in his bid to claim a playoff spot at the 32-team $80,000 Westcoast Curling Classic in New Westminster, B.C.
Petryk fell 6-5 in extra ends to the Mike McEwen rink of Winnipeg, ending his bid for a playoff spot through the ‘C’ event.
Calgary’s Brent Bawel rink recorded a 3-3 record, including a 5-4 win over Petryk, but was eventually eliminated after a 8-7 loss in the ‘C’ game to Jay Wakefield from New Westminster, B.C.
Skip Brock Virtue, guiding Calgary’s other entry in B.C. showdown, was also sent packing by McEwen, losing a 6-5 game in the ‘C’-side.
In the championship final, Edmonton’s Kevin Martin prevailed 5-2 over McEwen to win the title.